Traumatic nerve injuries are common and when nerves are severed and the defect is too extensive, it can be difficult to restore functionality.Synthetic nerve conduits present a viable solution to this need as an alternative to autografts for nerve regeneration.
To improve functional recovery of the nerve at an injured site, the hollow nerve conduit can be augmented using the infrastructure found in nerves such as Extracellular Matrix (ECM) precursor molecules and growth/neurotropic factors. Research at the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials seeks to improve delivery methods for critical growth factors through the fabrication of HNK-1 peptide mimics that can be loaded with microspheres of the necessary nerve growth factors.
Research is ongoing to optimize the fabrication of the regeneration- enhancing peptide mimics and the results have been promising. Future studies will be geared towards fine-tuning microsphere incorporation through the modification of emulsion-based techniques.