Page 8 - Club Bulletin 23/04/2018
P. 8

Associate Professor St John is building on work by 2017 Australian of the Year retired
          Professor Alan Mackay-Sim who showed olfactory insheathing cells from the nose could
          be safely taken from people with paraplegia, grown in the lab then transplanted back
          into the human body.

          These cells are used because of their unique capacity to regenerate nerve cells in the

          brain.
          The team is now working on ways to purify the nasal cells, improve the nerve “bridge”
          they need to grow on and figure out how to transplant them into the injury site without

          causing further damage

          However, simply transplanting stem cells is not enough to get someone walking again.
          Patients  will  need  long  term  rehabilitation,  the  brain  will  have  to  be  retrained  to
          remember how to walk and take in sensory queues from the paralysed site.

          That’s  where  the  work  of  a  second  group  of  biomechanical  researchers  at  Griffith

          University comes in.
          They are working on exoskeletons they want to wire to the human brain and connect to

          muscles, bypassing the damaged spinal cord.

          These  machines  could  be  used  to  support  paralysed  people  while  they  learn  to  move
          again after the nasal cell transplant.
          Griffith  University  Professor  David  Lloyd  and  team  use  computer  modelling  to  create

          individualised 3D devices and implants used by orthopaedic surgeons, and wants to use
          these technologies to help paraplegics.

          However, he needs approximately $330,000 in funding to make this happen, money he
          says is hard to get from agencies like the National Health and Medical Research Council
          who don’t tend to fund these kinds of very new and innovative projects.

          The idea is to use an exoskeleton, like a bike or a robotic walking machine, which assists a
          person to walk above a treadmill or over the ground.

          This device would be connected to an EEG that records electrical activity in the brain and
          signals sent to the muscles.

          The  system  would  also  be  linked  to  electrodes  attached  to  the  patient’s  muscles  and
          would signal those muscles to move.

          In  theory,  this  would  allow  the  mind  to  control  the  exoskeleton,  and  if  used  in
          conjunction with cell therapy, could help stimulate the spinal cells to regenerate.

          Feel Free to google any of the above to read more on this exciting research.

          Thank You

          Mari Jamieson
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