Dr. Jorge Almodovar

University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus


“Regeneration of damaged neural tissue using a collagen scaffold containing neurotrophins”

Project Summary

Damaged peripheral nerve associated with trauma or degenerative diseases have tremendous socioeconomic impact in terms of disability and related health care costs. Biomaterial-based strategies to enhance implant integration and nerve regeneration will enable the development of biologically active and integrative neurological technologies to address these pressing clinical issues. The objective of this project is to engineer a collagen-based scaffold decorated with the highly neuroinductive ligands nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in order to promote peripheral nerve growth. Our central hypothesis is that that this scaffold will serve as an efficient material for nerve repair by: (1) providing a suitable fibrous matrix mimetic environment to guide neural repair, and (2) using the layer by layer (LbL) technology to present the growth factors at optimal dosages, in a matrix-bound fashion, and protecting them from degradation. We have formulated this hypothesis based on our work on polymeric biomaterials. Aim 1: Determine the physico-chemical and biological properties of a collagen nerve guide conduit decorated with LbL reservoirs loaded with NGF and BDNF to engineer novel strategies for peripheral nerve repair. Aim 2: Determine the in vitro neural regeneration capabilities of a collagen nerve guide conduit containing matrix-bound NGF and BDNF to optimize the use of matrix-bound neurotrophins for nerve repair. This research is highly innovative because it focuses on the engineering of novel delivery strategies for highly neuroinductive ligands, seeking to shift the current clinical practice paradigm of using supraphysiological doses of potent growth factors. This work will create the foundation for future funding opportunities to perform in vivo testing of therapeutic implants advancing the field of neural tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.