Authors: R.G. Ellis-Behnke, Y-X Liang, S-W You, D.K.C. Tay, S. Zhang, K-F So and G.E. Schneider
Affilation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States
Pages: 784 - 787
Keywords: CNS regeneration, tissue repair, functional return of vision, nanomedicine
Nanotechnology is often associated with materials fabrication, microelectronics, and microfluidics; using nanotechnology and molecular self-assembly in biomedicine to repair injured brain structures had never been explored. To achieve axonal regeneration after injury in the CNS, several formidable barriers must be overcome, such as scar tissue formation after tissue injury, gaps in nervous tissue formed during phagocytosis of dying cells after injury, and the failure of many adult neurons to initiate axonal extension. Using the mammalian visual system as a model, we designed self-assembling peptide nanofiber scaffold to create a permissive environment for axons not only to regenerate through the site of an acute injury, but also to knit the brain tissue together. In experiments using a severed optic tract in the hamster, we show that regenerated axons reconnect to target tissues with sufficient density to promote functional return of vision, as evidenced by visually elicited orienting behavior. The peptide nanofiber scaffold not only represents a previously undiscovered nanobiomedical technology for tissue repair and restoration but also raises the possibility of effective treatment of CNS and other tissue or organ trauma.