Monday, 01 August 2016 10:06

Advances in peripheral nervous system regenerative therapeutic strategies: A biomaterials approach

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  • Peripheral nerve injury is a very common medical condition with varying clinical severity but always great impact on the patients' productivity and the quality of life. Even the current 1st-choice surgical therapeutic approach or the “gold standard” as frequently called in clinical practice, is not addressing the problem efficiently and cost-effectively, increasing the mortality through the need of a second surgical intervention, while it does not take into account the several different types of nerves involved in peripheral nerve injuries. Neural tissue engineering approaches could potentially offer a very promising and attractive tool for the efficient peripheral nerve injury management, not only by mechanically building the gap, but also by inducing neuroregenerative mechanisms in a well-regulated microenvironment which would mimic the natural environment of the specific nerve type involved in the injury to obtain an optimum clinical outcome. There is still room for a lot of optimizations in regard to the conduits which have been developed with the help of neural engineering since many parameters affect the clinical outcome and the underlying mechanisms are still not well understood. Especially the intraluminal cues controlling the microenvironment of the conduits are in an infantile stage but there is profound potential in the application of the scaffolds. The aim of our review is to provide a quick reference to the recent advances in the field, focusing on the parameters that can significantly affect the clinical potentials of each approach, with suggestions for future improvements that could take the current work from bench to bedside. Thus, further research could shed light to those questions and it might hold the key to discover new more efficient and cost-effective therapies.

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