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News Picks : Liquid metal used to reconnect severed nerves from bullfrogs

By: Physics Today
Tue May 06 14:45:00 UTC 2014
New Scientist: An alloy of gallium, indium, and selenium has been successfully used to connect the transected sciatic nerve of 10 bullfrogs, according to Jing Liu of Tsinghua University in Beijing and colleagues. After removing the nerve, the researchers tested its ability to conduct an electrical impulse both before severing it and after reconnecting it with the liquid metal alloy. They also compared using the alloy versus Ringer’s solution, which consists of several salts dissolved in water meant to simulate an animal’s bodily fluids. They found that the nerves reconnected by the alloy worked as well as the healthy nerves and better than those fixed with Ringer’s solution. They also tried removing the liquid metal from a severed frog's leg by using x rays to locate the alloy and a syringe to extricate it. Because liquid metal is poisonous to humans, however, the procedure will have to undergo extensive safety testing before it can be approved for clinical trials.

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