a team led by Rutgers researchers has successfully stabilized an enzyme capable of degrading scar tissue resulting from spinal cord injuries and promoting tissue regeneration by employing artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.
Thestudy, which was recently published inAdvanced Healthcare Materials, reveals how the teams demonstrated a ground-breaking stabilization of the enzyme Chondroitinase ABC, (ChABC), giving patients new hope for their spinal cord injuries.
This study represents one of the first times where artificial intelligence and robotics have been used to form highly sensitive therapeutic proteins and increase their activity by a large amount. It''s a major scientific achievement, according to Dr. Anadam Gormley, the project principal investigator and an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
Gormley said that his research is motivated partly by a personal connection to spinal cord injury.
Ill never forget being at the hospital and learning that a close college acquaintance would likely never walk again after being paralyzed from the waist down after a mountain biking accident. Occasionally, people such as my friend may alleviate the scar on their spinal cords and restore function. This is a great reason to wake up in the morning and try to advance science and therapy.
A biomedical engineering graduate from Rutgers SOE and a lead author of the study discovered that spinal cord injuries, or SCIs, can negatively impact patients and their families'' physical, psychological, and socio-economic well-being. Soon after an SCI, a secondary scar tissue produces dense scar tissue that can inhibit or prevent nervous tissue regeneration.
ChABC, a chemical that was successfully stabilized in the study, is known to degrade scar tissue molecules and promote tissue regeneration, but it is not quite as stable at the human body temperature of 98.6 F., and loses all activity within a few hours. Kosuri noted that this requirement requires multiple, expensive infusions at very high doses to maintain therapeutic efficacy.
Synthetic copolymers are able to wrap around different enzymes such as ChABC and stabilize them in hostile microenvironments. In order to stabilize the enzyme, scientists employed an AI-driven approach with liquid handling robotics to synthesize and test the ability of numerous copolymers to stabilize ChABC and maintain its activity at 98.6 F.
While the researchers were able to identify several copolymers that performed superb, Kosuri reported that one copolymer combination even continued to retain 30% of the enzyme for up to one week, achieving a promising result for patients seeking treatment for spinal cord problems.