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ACS Nano. 2011 Jan 25;5(1):227-36. doi: 10.1021/nn102461w. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

Transplantation of nanostructured composite scaffolds results in the regeneration of chronically injured spinal cords.

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Biotechnology and Biosciences Department, University of Milan-Bicocca, Milan 20126, Italy.


The destruction and hollowing of entire tissue segments represent an insurmountable barrier to axonal regeneration and therapeutics in chronic spinal cord injury. To circumvent this problem, we engineered neural prosthetics, by assembling electrospun nanofibers and self-assembling peptides into composite guidance channels and transplanted them into the cysts of a postcontusive, chronic spinal cord injury rat model, also providing delivery of proregenerative cytokines. Six months later conspicuous cord reconstruction was observed. The cyst was replaced by newly formed tissue comprising neural and stromal cells. Nerve fibers were interspersed between and inside the guidance channels, spanning the lesion, amidst a well-developed vascular network, basal lamina, and myelin. This was accompanied by a significant improvement in the activity of ascending and descending motor pathways and the global locomotion score. Thus by engineering nanostructured matrices into neuroprosthetics, it is possible to recreate an anatomical, structural, and histological framework, which leads to the replacement of large, hollow tissue gaps in the chronically injured spinal cord, fostering axonal regeneration and neurological recovery.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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