Advanced tissue engineering requires scaffolds fabricated at different scales to facilitate cellular repair. Neurons respond to micro and nanopatterns over which are grown and it is possible to control - to some extent – neurite protrusion and the formation of neuronal network by using only nanopatterns.

The present proposal is based on four main steps: i - Development and fabrication of Scaffolds; ii - Experimentation and testing of the formation of 3D neuronal networks; iii - Analysis of long term survival of 3D neuronal networks; iv- Development and testing of scaffolds for implants. The final and most important step concerns the implantation of our scaffolds in a neuronal tissue for repair. We will attempt to implant our scaffolds for repairing spinal cord and sciatic nerve injuries, a realistic but challenging aim. Controlled nanoscaled scaffolds will be obtained using nanocomposite materials to obtain custom-designed SFF scaffolds. These scaffolds will be constructed with different materials and will be decorated with appropriate CNTs and/or signaling molecules. Medical imaging will be used to target and interface personalized scaffold production for repair of injuries of the spinal cord and sciatic nerve. In order to achieve these results we have formed a collaboration based on two clusters of research centres, one in China and one in Europe. The cluster in China is composed of the Chinese Academy of Science in Bejing, the Institute of NanoTech and NanoBionics in Suzhou and the Department of Neurosurgery Neurology, Drum Tower Hospital, of the Nanjing University. The cluster in Europe is formed by SISSA (Vincent Torre), the University of Trieste (Laura Ballerini), IIT(Fabio Benfenati), Ecole Normale Supérieure (Yong Chen) in Paris and the University of Lund in Sweden (Jens Shohenbourg) where the repair of the sciatic nerve and the spinal cord will be studied. These two clusters have all the expertise to tackle and reach our objectives.

Start Date 1 Jul 2013
End Date 30 Jun 2016

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