Brain implant allows paralyzed monkey to walk


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/11/10/brain-implant-allows-paralyzed.html


#2

Wow! The things we can do even without fully understanding what’s going on in the central nervous system!


#3

It’s important to point out that Courtine and his colleagues deliberately damaged the spinal column of the two rhesus monkeys, causing paralysis in the right leg.

I get that the ends are laudable, but I must admit to being disgusted at the means.


#4

Kinda explains the whole tRump thingy.


#5

When do we start building the brain implant controlled giant robots?
Cyberpunk in real life.


#6

How else exactly do you think an advance like this can be achieved? It’s not like scientists use animal subjects when they can use cell culture or computational simulations instead.


#7

From the article:

Jackson is right to point out that more ethical standards need to be implemented in Asia, but the scientific community should most certainly be moving away from primate experimental models. Rather than fleeing to countries with less stringent animals testing protocols, researchers should try and find alternative ways of testing their theories and systems, whether it be through computer models or recruiting human test subjects. Indeed, it’s possible that some paraplegics and quadriplegics would welcome the opportunity to participate in this sort of research, regardless of the risks.

Or perhaps they could find some animals which are already paralyzed, and perform the testing on them. I’d be much less squicked out if the benefit being provided by the researchers wasn’t to offset a disability created by those same researchers.


#8

Don’t worry, the semi-paralyzed monkeys are being well cared for. They’ll live out their days with unlimited bananas, ice cream and daily massages … Actually, I suspect they were probably euthanized after the experiment but one can dream, right?


#9

Any primatologists want to weigh in on how difficult it would be to convince monkeys that motorcycles are the coolest form of personal transport; as long as you don’t wear any protective gear?

That seems like about the only way to get a sufficient supply of test subjects without inflicting the damage yourself.


#10

I wonder if this would work on monkeys who were actually dead? If so, when can human trials begin?


#11

Your implied compassion is deafening… [/s]


#12

Unfortunately, they probably need a “standard injury”…
One of the standard animals used for spinal damage research is felines – much cheaper than monkeys.
Just like many animal models, the translation to humans rarely works.

Unfortunately, and perhaps predictably, not one of these experiments has actually led to a cure or effective treatment for human spinal cord injury. Out of nearly two dozen therapies suggested to be effective in non-human animals,7 only one (methylprednisolone) proved helpful to injured humans.8 Even the effectiveness of methylprednisolone is now being called into serious question by practicing clinicians.

Perhaps the most salient reasons for this failure are related to anatomy—each species has a unique spinal orientation, movement kinetics, and neural anatomy. Furthermore, every human spinal injury comes with its own set of physical, neurochemical, and histological pathologies that cannot be properly duplicated in a laboratory setting.

On the other hand, human research methods have produced promising results, and others are worth a closer look.


#13

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