a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)

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Week: 598.4 

Guest: Kristine Schmidt, assoc. Prof. biomedicine, Univ. of Texas at Austin 

Topic: Nerve regeneration's toughest task 

Host/Producer: Steve Girard 

NEMA: The hardest part of nerve regeneration...coming up... 

SPOT: The best emergency is one that doesn't happen. The National Emergency Medicine Association. Visit us at www.nemahealth.org. 

NEMA: Researchers at MIT developed a method of using an electrically conducting plastic as a conduit in re-growing nerves cut by injury...Dr. Kristine Schmidt, one of the researchers.... 

SCHMIDT: Each nerve is a bundle of many, many axons of all different types. So the problem is not getting it to cross over...getting it from one end to the other...it's making sure that each one of those particular axons regenerates, to make sure all of them regenerate...and also the specificity seems to be an issue, making sure that from one end to the other, that they're correctly lining up. 

NEMA: that's so a sensory nerve end doesn't match up with a muscle nerve end. Dr. Schmidt says really understanding the process of regeneration is going to be the next focus... 

SCHMIDT: I think the next step is going to be stepping back a little bit, and understanding the process of regeneration a bit more. How does it regenerate its mass across this conduit? And how, when we apply an electrical stimulus, can we speed that regeneration up. But we're looking at a growth phenomena, and not really understanding the process itself. 

NEMA: I'm Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.