Engineering 3D bio-printed scaffolds to help regenerate damaged peripheral nervous systems
In the last decade or so, 3D printing has experienced a surge in popularity as the technology has become more precise and accessible. Now, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan are looking at how we can use 3D printing to help damaged nervous systems to regrow.
The peripheral nervous system, which controls the body beyond the brain and the spinal cord, can be damaged by poor diet, toxins, and trauma. It can also be damaged by diseases such as diabetes, which affects about 422 million people worldwide, and 3.4 million people in Canada.
Damage to the peripheral nervous system can affect our sense of touch and our motor control. The current standard for treating large gaps in the nervous system due to damage is nerve autografts, where donor nerves from another part of the body are used to repair the damaged parts.
Image: The tiny, bio-printed scaffolds are less than a centimeter long on each side.