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Replicating an eel's nerve circuitry may aid paralyzed people

body," Etienne-Cummings said. "Instead of stimulating the leg muscles directly, we want to go to the spinal cord and stimulate the nerves that control the muscles in the legs."

He envisions the device that would accomplish this as one that would contain mixed-signal (analog and digital) very large-scale integrated microchips. The device would be small and relatively inexpensive, running on a low-power, rechargeable battery. Etienne-Cummings cautioned, however, that much work lies ahead. After the researchers conclude their studies on lampreys, they must determine whether the results can be transferred to small mammals, such as rats. Routine use in humans could be at least 10 years away.

The continuing research has been supported by funding from the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.


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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University
2-Dec-2004


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