Peripheral Nervous System: Overview

Each year, there are approximately 250,000 peripheral nervous system (PNS) injuries that occur. In many instances, the defect is such that a donor nerve may be needed to bridge the damage site (autograft). Issues such as donor site morbidity and geometric mismatch can be problematic. Unlike, the central nervous system, nerves of the peripheral nervous system can regenerate, albeit at a slow rate of approximately 1mm/day. The Center is working on developing unique solutions including biomaterial scaffolds as a substitute for the nerve autograft. In addition, a key goal is to enhance the rate of regeneration to decrease the time needed for regenerating axons to reach their distal targets.

biomaterial visualSchwann cells aligned perpendicular to an externally applied DC electric field.

Focus Areas: 

  • Biomaterial scaffolds that mimic the endogenous tissue architecture
  • Use of contact guidance to modulate glial and axonal responses
  • Use of DC electric fields and microstimulators to enhance nerve regeneration
  • Computational modeling


Nanotechnology: Overview

The Center is engaged in a variety of unique nanotechnology platforms to deliver therapeutic agents to target tissues. Among the most promising options are the use of silica and chitosan polysaccharide nanoparticles for delivering siRNA and other drugs. In addition, our group is exploring the use of nanostructured conducting polymers and electromagnetic fields as a means to non-invasively deliver cargo in vivo. Early proof of concept showed drugs can be released by using high frequency AC based waves, opening up new frontiers in controlled drug delivery for neurology and cancer therapeutics.

Focus Areas:

  • Non-invasive controlled release via electromagnetic waveforms
  • Nanoconjugates using chitosan and silica nanoparticles
  • Self-assembled nanoemulsions
  • Nanowires and microcapsules
particlesTransmission electron micrograph showing silica nanoparticles taken up by a neural cell
ParticlesNanowire mats used for electromagnetic-field based drug delivery

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