European Conference of the International Federation for Medical and Biological Engineering
Damages to the complex of auditory and facial nerve by surgery lead to a permanent hearing impairment and facial paralysis. To regenerate nerve fibers, scaffolds can be used for guided axonal growth. Ideally, these scaffolds should be biodegradable to avoid removal surgery in the nervous system, and adaptable to the individual lesion site. The aim of the work performed is the development of individually adaptable biodegradable tubular scaffolds, which bridge both ends of the auditory or facial nerve after damage, and which help to direct regrowth across the nerve gap through the scaffold followed by axonal growth into the cochlear nucleus or peripheral targets, respectively. This shall be supported by seeding the scaffold with native or genetically modified Schwann cells (SC) and coating with specific antibodies against inhibitory proteins. To generate individual biodegradable polymer scaffolds in a laser sintering or melting process, parameters such as heating temperature, velocity, laser beam intensity and powder grain size have to be investigated. Additionally, the impact of the material as well as of its degradation products on neurons and glia cells has to be tested. Therefore, the biocompatibility was tested in a pilot in vivo study using a rat model.