Innovative electrospun conduits suitable for peripheral nerve regeneration
With an incidence rate of 300.000 cases in Europe, traumatic nerve injury is a challenging clinical problem, as it negatively affects the quality of life. Unfortunately, the strategies currently employed for repairing nerve scissions (autografts, allografts and artificial guides) are underperforming, especially for large nerve gaps. This project therefore aims to fabricate innovative nerve guidance conduits (NGCs) with improved nanomorphology and chemical cues to more efficiently guide the growing nerve towards its severed counterparts. By doing so, the qualitative repair of large nerve gaps may become feasible. To achieve the final project goal, a three-part strategy is presented. In a first stage, a novel electrospinning method is proposed to fabricate nanofibrous hollow tubes with highly aligned nanofibers on the inner wall and randomly organized nanofibers on the outer wall. In a second stage, fillers consisting of microchannels of aligned nanofibers will be manufactured to fit inside the hollow tubes, providing the required mechanical strength and additional cell guidance for large nerve gap repair. In the third stage, plasma-assisted surface modification method will be used to provide chemical cues needed for nerve regeneration. If, through extensive in vitro and in vivo preclinical testing, this project proves to be successful, it will have a profound impact on nerve trauma patients, while also revealing fundamental knowledge that goes beyond the field of nerve repair.