Our bodies have an impressive capacity to heal themselves; unfortunately, the nervous system regenerates much less easily than other vital tissues. Implants of materials that can support or guide the regrowth of cells could help the nervous system recover from injury or disease.
These images reveal the efforts of researchers to coax rat brain cells to grow across a surface of graphene, a material chosen for its toughness, flexibility, and ability to conduct electrical signals. The cells cannot easily implant on the graphene, and in early trials clung to each other instead. In later trials, the addition of the right mix of proteins to the graphene surface enabled cells to implant, grow, and form a healthy, web-like network.