Recent advances in nerve tissue engineering
Nerve injury secondary to trauma, neurological disease or tumor excision presents a challenge for surgical reconstruction. Current practice for nerve repair involves autologous nerve transplantation, which is associated with significant donor-site morbidity and other complications. Previously artificial nerve conduits made from polycaprolactone, polyglycolic acid and collagen were approved by the FDA (USA) for nerve repair. More recently, there have been significant advances in nerve conduit design that better address the requirements of nerve regrowth. Innovations in materials science, nanotechnology, and biology open the way for the synthesis of new generation nerve repair conduits that address issues currently faced in nerve repair and regeneration. This review discusses recent innovations in this area, including the use of nanotechnology to improve the design of nerve conduits and to enhance nerve regeneration.