Monday, 11 April 2016 08:47

Scaffold shape gets nerve cells into the groove

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Polymer fibers of the right size and shape could help regrowing nerve cells repair tissue damage after injury, according to scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Northeastern University [Koppes et al., Biomaterials 81 (2015) 27].

Nerve damage is very difficult to repair, with injuries to the peripheral nervous system leaving 60% of patients with life-long effects. Neural tissue has limited regenerative capabilities but can repair what are known as ‘small-gap’ injuries if the ends of damaged nerves are re-joined. For larger injuries, autografts of donor tissue can be used to bridge the gap but the body’s immune response, scarring, neuron death, and lack of support for regrowing neurons limits success.

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