Repairing damaged nerves
Nerves connect the muscles and other organs of the body to the brain and spinal cord in order to provide sensation and movement. Major nerves extend along the limbs and are delicate structures that can be damaged, most commonly in accidents. Nerve damage represents a major clinical concern worldwide and causes pain and disability, with significant costs to individuals and healthcare systems.
Although nerve regeneration is possible, it is a slow and often an incomplete process. The standard treatment for repair of severe nerve injury is to remove a nerve from another part of the body and surgically graft it to bridge a more important damaged nerve (autograft). This results in side effects related to donor site damage and the amount of tissue available for grafting is limited. Currently alternative options are limited to hollow tubes or decellularised tissue 1,2. The key beneficial feature of the autograft is the presence of columns of living cells (Schwann cells) that provide support and guidance to regenerating neurons 3.
Glialign is developing technology that mimics the key features of the nerve autograft and overcomes the side effects associated with the standard nerve repair treatment.
- Kehoe S, Zhang XF, Boyd D. FDA approved guidance conduits and wraps for peripheral nerve injury: a review of materials and efficacy. Injury2012; 43(5): 553-72.
- Szynkaruk M, Kemp SW, Wood MD, Gordon T, Borschel GH. Experimental and clinical evidence for use of decellularized nerve allografts in peripheral nerve gap reconstruction. Tissue engineering Part B, Reviews2013;19(1): 83-96.
- Deumens R, Bozkurt A, Meek MF, et al. Repairing injured peripheral nerves: Bridging the gap. Prog Neurobiol2010; 92(3): 245-76.