Description:

Development of photocrosslinkable composites that support the growth of neurites & provide increased adhesion, reducing the need to suture

Institute Reference: INV-18008

Background

Suturing peripheral nerve transections is the predominant therapeutic strategy for nerve repair. However, the use of sutures can lead to scar tissue formation, hinder nerve regeneration, and prevent functional recovery. 

Fibrin-based adhesives have been widely used for nerve reconstruction, but their low adhesiveness and mechanical strength, as well as their inability to promote nerve regeneration often limits their utility. 

Current formulations of fibrin-based glues are not designed to actively promote regeneration, nor are they mechanically robust enough to significantly reduce the need for sutures in the highly dynamic environment of the peripheral nervous system (PNS).

Technology Overview

In this invention, Northeastern researchers use photocrosslinkable gelatin/elastin composites to develop GelMA/MeTro hydrogel adhesive composites with tunable physicochemical properties for neural tissue engineering applications. 

The incorporation of two biopolymers with distinct biophysical and biochemical characteristics enabled the engineering of hydrogels with a wide spectrum of physicochemical properties. The physical properties of the engineered hydrogels like porosity, stiffness, elasticity, swellability, and in vitro and in vivo degradation rates were evaluated. The material supports the viability and proliferation of SCs, and promotes the extension of PNS neurons encapsulated within the composite hydrogels. Lastly, the biodegradability and immunogenicity of GelMA/MeTro hydrogels via subcutaneous implantation in vivo was also evaluated. The team hypothesizes that GelMA/MeTro hydrogels may be used as a multifunctional adhesive with regenerative capabilities for nerve repair and anastomosis. 

The engineered multifunctional composite hydrogel adhesive can be used to reduce the use of sutures by providing high adhesion to neural tissues and to promote neuronal regeneration by supporting the proliferation of glial cells. This strategy may overcome the limitations of currently available materials and therapies used for the clinical management of peripheral nerve injuries.

Benefits

  • Stronger tissue adhesion 
  • Supportive of neurite extension and Schwann cell participation
  • Tunable physical properties (mechanical properties, degradation, etc.)
  • Rapidly/easily cross‑linked by using light for easy/simple application
  • Cell-delivery vehicle 
  • High resilience and Elasticity 
  • Biocompatible and biodegradable

Applications

  • In the clinic: as an alternative to fibrin-based glues for nerve repair 
  • To fill the lumen of nerve conduits (cell-laden or not) 
  • Can be used to promote regeneration and repair damaged nerve tissue 

Opportunity

  • Development partner
  • Commercial partner
  • Licensing

IP Status

  • Patent application submitted

 
Patent Information:
Category(s):
Therapeutics
For Information, Contact:
Mark Saulich
Associate Director of Commercialization
Northeastern University
m.saulich@northeastern.edu
Inventors:
Jonathan Soucy
Ehsan Shirzaei Sani
Abigail Koppes
Ryan Koppes
Nasim Annabi
Keywords: