Tissue engineering scaffolds for nerve regeneration, or artificial nerve conduits, are particularly challenging due to the high level of complexity the structure of the nerve presents. The list of requirements for artificial nerve conduits is long and includes the ability to physically guide nerve growth using physical and chemical cues as well as electrical stimulation. Combining these characteristics into a conduit, while maintaining biocompatibility and biodegradability, has not been satisfactorily achieved by currently employed fabrication techniques. Here we present a method combining pultrusion and wet-spinning techniques facilitating incorporation of pre-formed filaments into ionically crosslinkable hydrogels. This new biofabrication technique allows the incorporation of conducting or drug-laden filaments, controlled guidance channels and living cells into hydrogels, creating new improved conduit designs.
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Available for download on Tuesday, May 23, 2017