How advances in our science have led to an ‘off-the-shelf’ nerve replacement: Engineered Neural Tissue (EngNT)
Nerve injury has diverse causes: trauma, surgery (tumour removal), compression syndrome can all lead to loss of sensation and muscle control and cause chronic pain. A cut peripheral nerve can under the right conditions regenerate, but if there is a gap between the cut nerve ends it must be bridged, otherwise poor functional recovery results in permanent loss of muscle control and feeling. The disability can be severe with lifelong pain.
In order that a regenerating nerve is guided across a gap, it has been shown that columns of therapeutic cells are vital to support growth. Our living nerve growth guide, EngNT, mimics nerve structure; it contains aligned therapeutic cells within a natural gel material in an outer sheath, and can be tailored to size. Our data show EngNT supports and guides nerve regeneration and recovery of function. We propose EngNT as an off-the-shelf solution to save the time, cost and risk of autograft surgery, and improve clinical outcomes.