Novel embryonic stem cell-infused scaffold for peripheral neuropathy repair
Papreck, Justin Ryan
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Peripheral nerve injury in adults often leads to permanent functional loss with or without pain. Traumatic injury or surgery, metabolic injury (diabetic neuropathy), and drug toxicity can lead to neuropathies and all negatively impact the quality of life1-8. Damage to the nervous system is often permanent since neurons in the brain and periphery are post-mitotic and have limited regenerative capacity. Nerve repair involves axon regeneration, a complex and incompletely understood process with repair potential declining with age9-15. The research and design discussed involves the induction of endogenous repair mechanisms of the peripheral nerve using embryonic stem cells, alginate hydrogel, and the guided support of a biomaterial scaffold composed of PGS. Three different populations of cells are discussed: human embryonic stem cells, neural progenitor cells derived from human embryonic stem cells16, and primary rat bone marrow stromal cells. This study was innovative in that it was the first attempt for use of an elastomeric biomaterial scaffold in an injury model for the purpose of clinical application. This research is significant as it has direct clinical relevance in that it incorporates both functional and neuropathic recovery of patients affected by peripheral nerve damage.