Straight from the pages of science fiction, a team at King’s College in London has reversed paralysis using stem cell neurons treated with blue LED light. The trials took place in April of this year, during which scientists were able to restore muscular function in the formerly paralyzed legs of mice. The Wall Street Daily recently followed up with a report confirming the vital role that LED light played in this experiment. Additional testing is now being done to create a usable model for human trials, and time will tell if indeed LED light beats paralysis for good.
The team used stem cells that contained neurons with a unique twist – a light sensitive gene that has the same biological structure as marine algae. These specially engineered cells were implanted into the exposed nerves of a paralyzed mouse, and then things really got interesting. The cells were exposed to blue LED light, and this triggered a connection between the nerve and the muscle, which essentially reverses paralysis. Scientists were able to adjust the intensity of the muscle’s contraction simply by varying the duration, intensity, and frequency of the LED light flashes.
This procedure shows promise for restoring muscular function in individuals who suffer from spinal cord injuries and motor neuron diseases. Further, it is a dramatic improvement over existing paralysis treatments that use electrical stimulation, which are often painful and cause rapid muscle fatigue.
In practice, this will basically be a tiny optical pacemaker that has a blue LED light built into it. The implanted pacemaker will consistently flash light onto the special neurons, thus allowing normal muscular function. The team at King’s College plans to develop this pacemaker within the next five years.
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