Neural canals were produced in a joint research carried out by Iranian researchers from Tarbiat Modarres University and National Cell Bank of Pasteur Institute of Iran to recover the damaged peripheral nervous system.
In case the project succeeds in complementary investigations, the product can be used in medical fields to treat patients who suffer from peripheral nervous system diseases.
In this research, silk fibroin/single-walled carbon nanotubes/fibronectin nanocomposite has been used to produce nerve conductive canal. The product has a porous structure and it is able to exchange food and oxygen. It also has a homogenous chemical and physical structure and has appropriate electrical conductivity. Speeding up and increasing the quality of sciatica nerve recovery in comparison with the previous products are among the most important achievements of the research.
It is necessary to know that biodegradability, softness and flexibility are among the important characteristics of nerve conduction canals. As mentioned before, silk fibroin was one of the components in the production of canal. It is a natural polymer and will guarantee the required characteristics.
Electrical conductivity of the canal is another important issue. The canal should be able to carry out electrical transfer of the separated nerve being treated. Since silk fibroin has low electrical conductivity, single-walled carbon nanotubes have been used in this research too.
According to the tests, animals whose sciatica nerve had been transplanted by using the designed canal showed faster delivery of neural message in comparison with other sample groups. This fact can confirm the recovery of nerve activity after the grafting.
Results of the research have been published in PLOS ONE, vol. 8, issue 9, 2013, pp. 1-12.