May 1st, 2007


The Borg assimilate paralyzed mice, throw away their little wheelchairs.

Not all Borg member species are humanoid. Among the non-humanoid Borg are the cute little kitten pictured here. Borg vessels may also include borgified pets such as goldfish, parrots and turtles, or livestock such as cows and llamas. After all, there's no particular reason the species you assimilate has to be intelligent if you're just going to subsume it into a hive-mind anyway.

Samuel Stupp has a bunch of mice that used to drag their hind legs behind them when they crawled around his Illinois lab, but they have miraculously regained at least partial use of their rear legs. Astonishingly, their severed spinal cords have been repaired, at least partly, without surgery or drugs.

Stupp's team concentrates on combining the incredibly small world of nanotechnology with biology, creating molecules that self-assemble into large molecular structures that can literally "hug" around cells in the human body. That allows them to take charge of key cells present in the body and dictate how they will perform, or, in the case of stem cells, what they will become.

In the end, it might turn out that Stupp's work is only part of the solution. Like his associates at the University of Michigan, he might find that his nanostructures make great drug delivery systems. Certain solutions may require the introduction of stem cells, he said, so that controversy isn't likely to go away. But maybe a marriage between nanotechnology and traditional medical procedures might be just the ticket.
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