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Silk Brain Implants

August 7, 2013

Silk brain implants could prevent the onset of epilepsy after brain injuries.



Silk versus epilepsy. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Chemical structure of adenosine. (Wikipedia)

Accessorizing the brain with silk may someday prevent epilepsy. That’s the goal of neurobiologist Detlev Boison of the Legacy Research Institute in Portland, Oregon. Epilepsy can materialize after a head injury. In rats, Boison’s team linked the onset of epilepsy to a temporary drop in a biological chemical called adenosine. He also showed that silk implants laced with adenosine could prevent this from happening.

DETLEV BOISON (Oregon Health Sciences University/Legacy Research Institute):

And this is a major achievement because none of the currently used anti-epileptic drugs in the clinic can prevent the development of epilepsy.

The implants haven’t been tried in humans yet. But silk is already used in surgical sutures, because it decomposes safely in the body. So putting it in brains wouldn’t be much of a stretch. The findings also suggest that more permanent adenosine-releasing implants could manage epilepsy in patients who already have it. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.