Axonal regeneration in biosynthetic nerve guide conduits

Principal investigator: Ivo Vanický
Duration of project: 1.7.2015 / 30.6.2019
Project registration number: APVV-14-0847



In adult mammals, nerve fibers are capable of regeneration. In peripheral nerve after injury, axons from the proximal stump regrow across the site of injury into the distal stump and create new connections with their target organs. Current surgical techniques allow for a direct reconstruction of the severed nerve (end-to-end) only if the missing segment is not too large.

After devastating injuries, autologous nerve grafts can be used. Synthetic nerve guides for nerve regeneration can be used as a substitute for autologous grafts. Regrowth of regenerating fibers across the synthetic nerve guides is limited to relatively short distances. This restriction is surprising, because in the distal stumps, regenerating axons are able to grow over long distances.

Advances in the synthesis of biocompatible polymers provide new biomaterials with optimized properties. In the present project, we plan to use biosynthetic guides made from new elastomeric materials. The properties of the nerve guide will be modified and tested in vitro, with the goal to stimulate regeneration over long distances. The effectiveness of these modifications on regeneration process will be tested in vivo.