Nerve guidance conduits for peripheral nerve repair

Nerve guidance conduit

Adam Reid, Senior Clinical Lecturer & Honorary Consultant in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, University Hospital of South Manchester & Centre for Tissue Injury & Repair, Faculty of Biology, Medicine & Health. Julie Gough, Professor of Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering, School of Materials, Faculty of Science & Engineering. Funded by i4i (NIHR) and UMIP

Peripheral nerve injury is common and functional recovery is often poor which has a profound and permanent impact on patient recovery and quality of life.

We have designed and developed a nerve guidance conduit, a collaboration between biomaterials scientists, peripheral nerve biologists and plastic surgeons based at The University of Manchester and University Hospital of South Manchester. This conduit aims to replace autologous grafting in up to 2cm nerve gaps in the wrist/hand. Nerve grafting is the current clinical gold standard for surgical repair of a nerve gap; however, there are significant disadvantages. Harvest of a nerve graft (usually sural nerve from the leg) is time consuming surgery which involves an additional surgical site, confers scarring/loss of function of the donor nerve, and patient outcomes remain poor. The benefits of our approach will therefore be higher success rates, lack of donor site issues, and cost reductions in surgery.

As part of this project, a 16 patient Phase 1 clinical trial will commence in August 2017 after recently gaining approval from the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). This project represents the first implantable biomaterial device to go to clinical trial for the University of Manchester. The project is an excellent example of interdisciplinary and collaborative research with investigators from the School of Materials, the School of Biological Sciences and the University Hospital of South Manchester.

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