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Multifunctional nanowire scaffolds for neural tissue engineering applications




Bechara, Samuel Leo, author
Popat, Ketul, advisor
Tobet, Stuart, committee member
Legare, Marie, committee member
Rollin, Bernard, committee member
Sladek, John, committee member

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Unlike other regions of the body, the nervous system is extremely vulnerable to damage and injury because it has a limited ability to self-repair. Over 250,000 people in the United States have spinal cord injuries and due to the complicated pathophysiology of such injuries, there are few options available for functional regeneration of the spinal column. Furthermore, peripheral nerve damage is troublingly common in the United States, with an estimated 200,000 patients treated surgically each year. The current gold standard in treatment for peripheral nerve damage is a nerve autograft. This technique was pioneered over 45 years ago, but suffers from a major drawback. By transecting a nerve from another part of the body, function is regained at the expense of destroying a nerve connection elsewhere. Because of these issues, the investigation of different materials for regenerating nervous tissue is necessary. This work examines multi-functional nanowire scaffolds to provide physical and chemical guidance cues to neural stem cells to enhance cellular activity from a biomedical engineering perspective. These multi-functional scaffolds include a unique nanowire nano-topography to provide physical cues to guide cellular adhesion. The nanowires were then coated with an electrically conductive polymer to further enhance cellular activity. Finally, nerve growth factor was conjugated to the surface of the scaffolds to provide chemical cues for the neural stem cells. The results in this work suggest that these multifunctional nanowire scaffolds could be used in vivo to repair nervous system tissue.


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tissue engineering
neural stem cells


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