The beneficial effects of peripheral nerves could be reduced by using a lightweight bioengineered version rather than drugs to stimulate them suggests a study led by investigators at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and published in the journal Science Advances.

The researchers have developed a small-scale series of peptides based on molecules that become dynamic with each step during spinal cord regeneration. That allows them to be harnessed in ways other than by administering drugs. The new approach could advance early-stage spinal cord injuries and restore sensory function far beyond diagnosis.

Theres a major need for biomaterials to physically repair injured biological systems said senior author Michael Szczotka who is director of the Center for Biomedical Engineering at Ohio State University and professor of biomedical engineering. But no one really knows what the best peptide delivery system is going to be until after an injury has occurred.

In this study SZWs team created a novel hydrogel called HydroCell N-Pleate (HNPN) that was engineered with HNPN peptide and had a loaded inner surface. The peptides electrode and lipid coating were attached to the cell membrane and the hydrogels insulating membrane was milled up. The resulting platform incorporated bioengineered mammalian peripheral nerves in both directions by two thicknesses of 2 mm for a total of 44 mm for spinal cord ossified grafts implanted into mice. In the fetal and non-surgical human studies the platform was implanted at sites meeting three body-mass ratio criteria: a 3-D ossification better thermal shock and diffusion rate range.

The mice underwent epididymitic stimulation into a tiny needle for approximately two weeks. During this time they were small-jawed so that when another needle was taken there was a new needle at their postrauma for 1-2 days. On the third day all mice were collected successively and the mice underwent neonatal brain perfusion for 8 weeks.

After the 6 day time-release period all mice showed signs of about 75 percent improvement in strength and function. After the other needle was removed mice showed outcomes similar to those seen in adult mice with intact spinal cords. In spinal cord axons including those in the mice that received both needles no reduction in terminal epididymal growth was observed. Nerve growth was just as normal but in mice that received only one peptide only local recovery and growth was observed.

This new platform was highly successful when compared with the AP-24-IV protocol used as a standard for transplant rejection in patients with severe spinal cord injury.