By Rick Weiss
The Washington Post
Monday, January 31, 2005; Page A08
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Qdots and amphiphiles and other possibilities...
Injured nerves do not regenerate easily, and the little healing that does occur is often inhibited by scar tissue formation. Samuel Stupp and John Kessler at Northwestern University in Chicago are using nanotechnology to overcome those hurdles.
They made tiny rod-like molecules called amphiphiles, each of which is capped by a cluster of amino acids known to spur the growth of neurons and prevent scar tissue formation. The molecules are designed to remain suspended in a few drops of liquid until they come in contact with living cells. At that point they spontaneously arrange themselves like spokes in a wheel, and then further assemble into spaghetti-like nanofibers a few thousandths the thickness of a human hair. The nerve-healing amino acids end up arranged nicely on the fibers' surface.