In a collaborative study with Laser Zentrum Hannover (Germany) published today (23 April 2012) in the journal Biofabrication, the team describes a new method for making medical devices called nerve guidance conduits or NGCs.
The method is based on laser direct writing, which enables the fabrication of complex structures from computer files via the use of CAD/CAM (computer aided design/manufacturing), and has allowed the research team to manufacture NGCs with designs that are far more advanced than previously possible.
Currently patients with severe traumatic nerve damage suffer a devastating loss of sensation and/or movement in the affected limb. The traditional course of action, where possible, is to surgically suture or graft the nerve endings together. However, reconstructive surgery often 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," says 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 material 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," says lead author Dr Frederik Claeyssens, of the University's Department of Materials Science and Engineering. "Using our new technique we can make a conduit with individual strands so the nerve fibres can form a similar structure to an undamaged nerve."
Once the nerve is fully regrown, the conduit biodegrades naturally.
The team hopes 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 channelled 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," says 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," he adds. "This technology could make a huge difference to patients suffering severe nerve damage."
Clare Elsley | EurekAlert!
New flexible, transparent, wearable biopatch, improves cellular observation, drug delivery
12.11.2018 | Purdue University
Exosomes 'swarm' to protect against bacteria inhaled through the nose
12.11.2018 | Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.
Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
12.11.2018 | Life Sciences
12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences
12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy