Medicine: Jelly for Nerves

One of the hardest tricks in surgery is the repair of torn nerves. Every human being has a fixed number of nerve cells at birth, and, unlike other cells, they do not multiply. Torn nerve fibres heal only by sending forth tendrils toward the severed ends. In stitching together jagged nerve ends, surgeon must be careful not to pull the nerve taut, must draw the silk through the petal-thin nerve sheath, not through its body.

Last week in the British Lancet, Zoologists J. Z. Young and P. B. Medawar of Oxford University suggested an easier means of mending torn nerves: a biological...

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