Damage to a peripheral nerve often results in a defect between the proximal and distal nerve stumps that cannot be directly repaired without excessive tension limiting regeneration. While a nerve autograft remains the “standard of care” for these defects, it has disadvantages for the patient. However, adequate functional recovery after a nerve injury reconstructed with a long nerve autograft alternative (nerve construct) is rarely achieved. This outcome is due to few axons regenerating across the construct. This project utilizes bioengineering techniques to tailor the material properties of nerve to develop clinically-relevant constructs to improve nerve regeneration. In addition, this approach develops multiple variants of nerve constructs with tuned material properties yielding a library of constructs. This library will provide the ability to assess how material properties (mechanical and biological cues) impact nerve cell populations and signaling pathways during nerve regeneration.
Updated January 2019