NANOCELLULOSE CONDUITS FOR PERIPHERAL NERVE REGENERATION
Author: Marley Dewey
Major: Chemical Engineering
Graduation Year: 2016
Thesis Advisor: David J. Neivandt
Description of Publication: Peripheral nerve injuries are common occurrences, particularly due to war fighters experiencing injuries in the field, and motor vehicle accidents. Injuries can result in partial to complete loss of motor function as well as intense pain. Peripheral nerves have the innate ability to regenerate over time, and with the help of surgery, can reconnect to regain function. Currently the optimal surgical method is nerve autografts, however these have significant drawbacks. Nerve autografts surgically remove a minor nerve from a different part of the patient’s body and use it to join the nerve stumps of the injured nerve together, meanwhile creating a second surgical site. In addition, an autograft requires a specific diameter of nerve. An alternative method is the implantation of conduits to protect the nerve stumps and promote regeneration. However, conduits have equal or lower success rates compared to nerve autografts. A major advantage of conduits over nerve autografts, however, is the lack of dependence on acquiring donor nerves. The ideal conduit would be one that is readily available, biocompatible, and promotes axonal growth. It has been recently shown that the naturally occurring and abundant polymer, cellulose, can be processed to the nanoscale and tailored to control growth of a wide range of cell types, including neurites. The following work determines the efficacy of employing conduits made of nanocellulose to promote peripheral nerve repair.
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