Issue Date: August 23, 2010
Nanofiber Scaffolds As Brain Bandages
Polymer nanofibers woven onto a specialized frame by electrospinning serve as an improved substrate over random nonwoven nanofibers for growing dural fibroblast cells, according to a research article in ACS Nano (DOI: 10.1021/nn101554u). The composite material can be used to make patches or grafts to induce wound closure and tissue regeneration. Younan Xia and coworkers at Washington University in St. Louis made scaffolds of radially aligned poly(ε-caprolactone), an FDA-approved biodegradable polymer, by using a collector consisting of a central spinneret electrode and a peripheral ring electrode. The aligned nanofibers provide topographic cues to cultured dural fibroblast cells, the researchers say, directing and enhancing their uniform migration and growth throughout the scaffold. The cultured cells express type I collagen, the main extracellular matrix component of dura mater, which is the connective tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Dural substitutes are often needed after neurosurgery to expand or replace dura mater. Tissue grafts are available to serve as patching materials, but they are beset with adverse effects, including the possibility of transmitting disease and rejection. And, to date, polymeric dural substitutes don’t provide topographic cues to direct cell migration. The researchers showed in comparison tests that the aligned nanofiber scaffolds provide improved performance over a leading commercial product.
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