Biodegradable, Drug-Releasing Tubes for Tissue Engineering and Regeneration (23091)

Biodegradable drug-releasing conduits for applications in tissue engineering and neuronal regeneration. These conduits are capable of delivering DNA, protein, and/or small molecules.

Significance: Investigators at Northwestern have designed biodegradable nerve guidance conduits or bridges possessing multiple features for promoting nerve regeneration. These conduits serve as a mechanical support to promote and direct tissue regeneration by creating a path for neurite outgrowth and exclude invading tissue from the injured space. The conduits possess either a single, large channel or multiple, small channels. Moreover, the fabrication method allows for a time-controlled release of therapeutic agents that aid tissue regeneration. The fabrication process avoids the use of organic solvents, aqueous/organic emulsions and elevated temperatures required by alternative methods, allowing a wide range of therapeutics to be incorporated: DNA, proteins, as well as small molecules. These combinations can be tailored to encourage tissue formation. An additional advantage is the potential to spatially regulate the incorporation of therapeutic agents and regulate the concentration of different growth factors throughout the conduit.

Background: While the field of tissue repair and engineering is growing, the area of nervous tissue regeneration still proves to be perhaps the most complex. Biodegradable scaffolds serve a central role in many strategies for engineering tissue replacements and in guiding tissue regeneration. Nerve guidance conduits reduce cellular infiltration into the injury site and maintain a path for regeneration. They also serve as a vehicle for the delivery of bioactive factors in order to manipulate cellular processes within the scaffold microenvironment. The versatility of this technology is a step forward in the use of biodegradable scaffolds. Other scaffolds in use either are not biodegradable or can only incorporate a narrow range of compounds.

The biodegradable drug releasing conduits have been tested and demonstrated to be functional under in vitro and in vivo conditions. An in vitro culture system was used to demonstrate that nerve growth factor (NGF) introduced by the scaffold induced extensive neurite extension through the scaffold matrix; a marked contrast from NGF added directly to the growth media. Additionally, DNA delivery can be performed either as naked DNA, or complexed with a cationic polymer or lipid (i.e., polyplexes, lipoplexes). This polymer release can enhance gene transfer locally. Preliminary studies with these conduits and bridges have been performed in both a peripheral nerve and spinal cord model.

Status: A patent application has been filed and Northwestern University is interested in licensing this technology. Additional information is available upon request.

Type of Offer: Licensing

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