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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2009 Nov 30;169(2):183-99. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2009.08.015. Epub 2009 Sep 6.

Current tissue engineering and novel therapeutic approaches to axonal regeneration following spinal cord injury using polymer scaffolds.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.

Abstract

This review highlights current tissue engineering and novel therapeutic approaches to axonal regeneration following spinal cord injury. The concept of developing 3-dimensional polymer scaffolds for placement into a spinal cord transection model has recently been more extensively explored as a solution for restoring neurologic function after injury. Given the patient morbidity associated with respiratory compromise, the discrete tracts in the spinal cord conveying innervation for breathing represent an important and achievable therapeutic target. The aim is to derive new neuronal tissue from the surrounding, healthy cord that will be guided by the polymer implant through the injured area to make functional reconnections. A variety of naturally derived and synthetic biomaterial polymers have been developed for placement in the injured spinal cord. Axonal growth is supported by inherent properties of the selected polymer, the architecture of the scaffold, permissive microstructures such as pores, grooves or polymer fibres, and surface modifications to provide improved adherence and growth directionality. Structural support of axonal regeneration is combined with integrated polymeric and cellular delivery systems for therapeutic drugs and for neurotrophic molecules to regionalize growth of specific nerve populations.

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