Live updates

Paralysis breakthrough: What the experts say

For the first time scientists have been able to restore the ability to grasp with a paralysed hand using spinal cord stimulation. There is currently no cure for upper limb paralysis. This can be caused by a stroke or spinal injury.

Researchers at Newcastle University, working with macaque monkeys, have shown that by connecting the brain to a computer and then the computer to the spinal cord, it is possible to restore movement.

"Much of the technology we used for this is already being used separately in patients today, and has been proven to work. We just needed to bring it all together.

"I think within five years we could have an implant which is ready for people. And what is exciting about this technology is that it would not just be useful for people with spinal injuries but also people who have suffered from a stroke and have impaired movement due to that. There are some technical challenges which we have to overcome, as there is with any new technology, but we are making good progress."

– Dr Andrew Jackson, Research Fellow at Newcastle University

"Animal studies such as ours are necessary to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of procedures before they can be tried in human patients, to minimise risk and maximise chance of successful outcomes."

– Dr Jonas Zimmermann, now at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

"Being able to restore dexterous hand movements to patients paralysed by stroke or spinal cord injury would be a huge improvement to their independence and quality of life. The Newcastle University team's research, which harnesses the intact portions of the nervous system and creates new artificial connections, is at the cutting edge of neuro and rehabilitation science. When used alone or in combination with other rehabilitation approaches, this technique could lead to significant improvements in hand function and transform the lives of paralysed patients."

– Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust

Monkey paralysis research could help 'devastating' conditions

Pioneering research at Newcastle University could eventually allow patients paralysed from the waist up the ability to use their hands.

The process involves redirecting electronic signals from the brain to the spinal cord through a computer.

Dr Andrew Jackson, Research Fellow at Newcastle University, explains the importance of the research.

Advertisement

Research on monkeys could enable paralysed hands to move again

Pioneering research at Newcastle University could eventually allow patients paralysed from the waist up the power to grasp objects with their hands.

The process involves redirecting electronic signals from the brain to the spinal cord through a computer.

To test the theory, scientists used macaque monkeys, temporarily paralysing them to mimic human injuries, inevitably raising concerns over experiments on animals.

Dr Andrew Jackson, Research Fellow at Newcastle Univeristy, explains the controversial decision and the process involved.

Advertisement

Video flying through space shows how universe would look to Captain Kirk

On the day scientists in the United States announced they may have detected echoes of the Big Bang at the start of the universe, researchers in the UK showed off a unique image of the cosmos in more recent times.

The team from Durham University used data from telescopes and satellites to put together a detailed map of thousands of galaxies, which Dr Peder Norberg compared to the view Captain Kirk and his team in Star Trek would have from their flights around space:

Load more updates