Published on April 23rd, 2012 | by James Johnson0
New Technique Could Soon Help Nerves Properly Regrow Into Place After Trauma
Scientists at the University of Sheffield believe they have found a way to help damaged nerves repair themselves and regrow following a traumatic accident. According to their research patients could regain sensation and movement in their damaged nerves when the new procedure is used.
Published in the journal Biofabrication on April 23, 2012 the group worked with Laser Zentrum Hannover of Germany to make new medical devices known as nerve guidance conduits (NGCs).
According to ScienceDaily:
The method is based on laser direct writing, which enables the fabrication of complex structures from computer files via the use of CAD/CAM (computer aided design/manufacturing), and has allowed the research team to manufacture NGCs with designs that are far more advanced than previously possible.
In the past doctors would attempt to surgically suture or graft a patients nerve endings together which works in some cases but does not typically lead to a full recovery.
According to University of Sheffield Professor of Bioengineering, John Haycock:
“When nerves in the arms or legs are injured they have the ability to re-grow, unlike in the spinal cord; however, they need assistance to do this. We are designing scaffold implants that can bridge an injury site and provide a range of physical and chemical cues for stimulating this regrowth.”
The new technology is made from biodegradable synthetic polymer material and it is designed to guide damaged nerves to re-grow only in a number of small channels.
According to the group:
“Using our new technique we can make a conduit with individual strands so the nerve fibres can form a similar structure to an undamaged nerve.”
Because the conduit is biodegradable after the nerve is fully regrown is simple biodegrades with no further surgery needed to remove the conduit.
Lab tests have been successful and the team of researchers are now working towards clinical trials to determine the real world efficacy of their newly discovered procedure.
Researchers are hopeful that not only will this procedure work for nerve endings but also for future surgeries including issues in which the spinal chord has been injured.