Features | Partner Sites | Information | LinkXpress
Sign In
GLOBETECH MEDIA
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING LLC
GLOBETECH PUBLISHING LLC

Nerve Guidance Conduits May Help Damaged Nerves Regrow, Restore Function

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 10 May 2012
Engineers have developed a way of helping nerves damaged by traumatic accidents to repair naturally, which could improve the prospect of restoring sensation and movement in injured limbs.

Scientists from the University of Sheffield (UK), collaborating with Laser Zentrum Hannover (Germany) published their findings April 23, 2012, in the journal Biofabrication. The team described a new way to make medical devices called nerve guidance conduits (NGCs).

The technology is based on laser direct writing, which enables the fabrication of complex structures from computer files with the use of computer-aided design/manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology, and has allowed the research researchers to construct NGCs with designs that are far more sophisticated than ever before possible.

Currently patients with severe traumatic nerve damage suffer a devastating loss of sensation and/or movement in the affected limb. The conventional course of action, where possible, is to surgically suture or graft the nerve endings together. However, reconstructive surgery frequently does not result in complete recovery.

“When nerves in the arms or legs are injured they have the ability to re-grow, unlike in the spinal cord; however, they need assistance to do this,” said University of Sheffield professor of bioengineering, John Haycock. “We are designing scaffold implants that can bridge an injury site and provide a range of physical and chemical cues for stimulating this regrowth.”

The new conduit is made from a biodegradable synthetic polymer compound based on polylactic acid and has been designed to guide damaged nerves to re-grow through a number of small channels. “Nerves aren’t just like one long cable, they’re made up of lots of small cables, similar to how an electrical wire is constructed,” said lead author Dr. Frederik Claeyssens, from the Sheffield’s department of materials science and engineering. “Using our new technique we can make a conduit with individual strands so the nerve fibers can form a similar structure to an undamaged nerve.”

Once the nerve is regrown, the conduit biodegrades naturally. The researchers hope that this approach will significantly increase recovery for a wide range of peripheral nerve injuries. In laboratory experiments, nerve cells added to the polymer conduit grew naturally within its channeled structure and the research team is now working towards clinical trials.

“If successful we anticipate these scaffolds will not just be applicable to peripheral nerve injury, but could also be developed for other types of nerve damage too. The technique of laser direct writing may ultimately allow production of scaffolds that could help in the treatment of spinal cord injury,” said Dr. Claeyssens. “What’s exciting about this work is that not only have we designed a new method for making nerve guide scaffolds which support nerve growth, we’ve also developed a method of easily reproducing them through micromolding. This technology could make a huge difference to patients suffering severe nerve damage.”

Related Links:
University of Sheffield
Laser Zentrum Hannover


Channels

Genomics/Proteomics

view channel
Image: Typical antibodies (left) unfold in the harsh environment of the cell. Camelid antibodies (right) are smaller and more stable (Photo courtesy of the Washington University School of Medicine).

Double Targeting Approach Increases Potential for Cancer Treatment with Oncolytic Viruses

Cancer researchers have used a double targeting approach to direct oncolytic viruses specifically to tumor cells where they reproduce until the cancer cells burst, releasing more viruses to infect and... Read more

Drug Discovery

view channel
Image: Molecular model of the protein Saposin C (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Nanovesicles Kill Human Lung Cancer Cells in Culture and in a Mouse Xenograft Model

Nanovesicles assembled from the protein Saposin C (SapC) and the phospholipid dioleoylphosphatidylserine (DOPS) were shown to be potent inhibitors of lung cancer cells in culture and in a mouse xenograft model.... Read more

Biochemistry

view channel

Possible New Target Found for Treating Brain Inflammation

Scientists have identified an enzyme that produces a class of inflammatory lipid molecules in the brain. Abnormally high levels of these molecules appear to cause a rare inherited eurodegenerative disorder, and that disorder now may be treatable if researchers can develop suitable drug candidates that suppress this enzyme.... Read more

Lab Technologies

view channel
Image: The FLUOVIEW FVMPE-RS Gantry microscope (Photo courtesy of Olympus).

New Multiphoton Laser Scanning Microscope Configurations Expand Research Potential

Two new configurations of a state-of-the-art multiphoton laser scanning microscope extend the usefulness of the instrument for examining rapidly occurring biological events and for obtaining images from... Read more

Business

view channel

Roche Acquires Signature Diagnostics to Advance Translational Research

Roche (Basel, Switzerland) will advance translational research for next generation sequencing (NGS) diagnostics by leveraging the unique expertise of Signature Diagnostics AG (Potsdam, Germany) in biobanks and development of novel NGS diagnostic assays. Signature Diagnostics is a privately held translational oncology... Read more
 
Copyright © 2000-2015 Globetech Media. All rights reserved.