InteliSpark client, Renerva, LLC, has been awarded a phase I SBIR grant from the NSF for their project titled, “Development of a Peripheral Nerve Matrix Conduit to Enable Nerve Regeneration”, that will begin on July 1st. This project will focus on the advancement of biomaterials development for nerve repair.
U.S. surgeons perform around 550,000 procedures to repair peripheral nerves affected by traumatic or iatrogenic nerve injury each year. The economic burden associated to loss in employee productivity is estimated to exceed $150B each year as well. Peripheral Nerve Injury (PNI) impacts the injured patient’s quality of life, productivity, and interpersonal relationships. Existing materials are primarily indicated for use as passive support or to prevent complications (e.g., mechanical instability, neuroma, or donor site morbidity associated with autograft). None of these products has shown clinical improvement in functional outcomes.
Therefore, an advancement of technology or method that can accelerate or improve nerve repair is vital, as it can improve quality of life for those with nerve injuries and reduce the economic burden associated with long term disability for those with nerve injuries. Renerva proposes to address this issue by undertaking the initial development and testing of a porcine tissue-based nerve conduit. The objective of this project is to fabricate conduits that have suitable mechanical, structural, and biological properties to provide an ideal environment for nerve repair and regeneration in nerve gap injuries. Their project will include the development and in vitro characterization of the conduit, as well as in vivo testing in a small animal model of nerve gap repair. Pilot studies have suggested that the proposed conduits have the potential to promote key early events in the nerve regeneration process leading to the formation of functional nerve tissue. The expected outcome is that the proposed conduits will be superior to existing nerve guides and allografts, enabling improvements in nerve repair and providing improvements in the clinical care of affected patients.