Cells in the peripheral nervous system can regrow, but they sometimes have trouble linking up with each other, which is essential to restore feeling and function. To aid peripheral nerve regeneration, McGowan Institute faculty member Kacey Marra, PhD, and researchers have developed scaffolds made of FDA-approved biodegradable polymers and protein beads. Channels in the scaffolds act as guides for axons, the long arms of nerve cells, to grow longer and in the right directions. In early studies, a nerve guide seeded with stem cells derived from fat restored some hind leg mobility to paralyzed rats.
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