2007 NSTI Nanotechnology Conference and Trade Show - Nanotech 2007 - 10th Annual

Electrospun Microfiber Tubes and Self-Assembling Peptides Stimulate Neural Regeneration in Rat Sciatic Nerve Transections

F. Gelain, S. Panseri, L. Modica, F. Taraballi, J. Lowery and A. Vescovi
University of Milan-Bicocca, IT

Keywords:
self-assembling, electrospinning, neural regeneration

Abstract:
Peripheral nerve injury is still a traumatic pathology that may impair patient’s movements by interrupting his motor-sensory pathways. New synthetic nerve grafts comprising electrospun tubes and tailored self-assembling peptides are used in our study to regenerate 1 cm nerve gap in rat sciatic nerve transection animal models. Experimental groups consist of lesioned animals (L group), lesioned animals subjected to tube implantation (LTgroup), lesioned animals with tube and gel implantation (LTG group). Three months after surgery in all L group animals sciatic nerves failed to regenerate and to reconnect the two stumps of transected sciatic nerve, in less than 20% LT group animals nerve fibers regenerated lesion and in more than 85% LTG group animals nervous fibers infiltrated and reconnected the stump stumps of sciatic nerve (positive -Tubulin staining and Bielchowsky reaction). Injections of Fluororuby, a neuronal tracer, revealed the re-establishment of functional neuronal connections between the proximal and distal stumps of the lesions in LTG group animals only. Our approach, the first neural regenerative strategy making jointly use of different nanotechnology techniques, has remarkable advantages and potential for other improvements. All scaffold components are well-defined and can be product at >99% purity. The scaffold structure mimics the nanofiber-like extracellular matrix surrounding neural cells. Scaffolds can be embedded with neurotrophic factors (ongoing experiments) and seeded with cells. The overall approach can be adapted to regenerate different lesions in nervous tissue (i.e. spinal cord injury) and other tissues (i.e. skin and bone) by choosing different macroscale supporting structures (electrospun microfibers) and different functionalized nanofibers (self-assembling peptides).

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