The major challenge faced by the project is to implement a technology for 3D fabrication of customized guide-tubes with tailored and anisotropic properties (personalized medicine). If this method is successfully implemented, it is expected that porous guide-tubes (pore size 1-10 μm) prevent fibroblast invasion and provide sufficient mechanical strength for fixation and resistance to compression dextran-PCL-based guide-tubes 3D printed, improving the regeneration rate in the case of short- or long-term nerve damage (10-30 mm gap).
This proposal aims to implement a technology for 3D fabrication of dextran-PCL-based guide-tubes to further facilitate the natural processes of peripheral nerve regeneration. This innovative strategy brings several advantages: 3D printing technology will improve the processability (high production efficiency, handling simplicity and affordable fabrication) and reduce the number of resources and time required to fabricate personalized guide-tubes with very high precision (~5 μm), a cost-reduction perspective; the guide-tubes will have tailored properties (e.g., length, diameter, porosity) according to the needs of each patient, improving the quality of recovery, and increase the likelihood of full recovery of nerve function. It is expected that the application of the dextran-PCL-based guide-tubes 3D printing technology will allow patient-specific functional recovery, which will theoretically, will improve regeneration accuracy in short-/large-gap lesions. This technology will allow a new treatment standpoint, leading to major improvements in human health that will have a major socioeconomic impact: creating a more efficient approach; identifying new therapies that promote the patient’s compliance; making them accessible to a wider population and reducing their healthcare expenditures; ensure a healthy living and promoting well-being for all at all stages.
1) Preparation of guide-tubes using dextran and PCL functionalized with different molecular weights (affecting the mechanical properties, biodegradation rate, viscosity), % of functionalization (10-50%) and D-mannitol;
2) Optimization of printing conditions (processing temperature, filling density, dispensing pressure, material flow, printing speed and nozzle diameter) to produce guide-tubes with customized characteristics (dimensions, porosity);
3) In vitro evaluation of guide-tubes (different shapes and compositions) produced. Different experiments will be performed: hydrolytic degradation; cellular viability in contact with the 3D guide-tubes; and the growth of neurites in the presence of the 3D device.