Intrinsically Conducting Polymers (ICPs) have good biocompatibility and can be used as substrates to deliver electrical stimulation to anchorage-dependent cells such as osteoblasts, endothelial cells and neurons. This type of stimulation speeds up cells' growth and proliferation. During a previous NIH SBIR project, TDA Research, Inc. developed forms of ICPs that are biodegradable and, in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin, demonstrated that these polymers could be used to deliver in vitro electrical stimulation to neuron-like cells. We also demonstrated that different types of electrical stimulation could be used to control the differentiation of neuron-like cells. We used our conducting biodegradable ICPs to coat the inner walls of Nerve Guidance Channels and successfully used them to guide in vivo re-growth of severed sciatic nerves in rats. The objective of this Phase I SBIR project is to develop an optimal method to transfer wireless electromagnetic energy to a conductive, biodegradable polymer tube through a series of in vitro experiments. In the Phase II project we will use the method and device developed in Phase I to carry out non-invasive transcutaneous electrical stimulation of a conducting and biodegradable Nerve Guidance Channel in an animal model.
We aim to demonstrate that transcutaneous electrical stimulation accelerates the healing of damaged peripheral nerve injuries.

Public Health Relevance

Biodegradable polymers recently developed by TDA Research, Inc. exhibit the benefit of being electrically conductive. Tests showed that these polymers, when excited by an electric field, facilitate and hasten the regeneration of nerve cells. When formed into a tubular shape, these polymers can be used in vivo to surround a severed nerve, stimulating and channeling new cell growth. Thus, the need for a transcutaneous method of applying the electrical stimulus arises. An optimal method of the electromagnetic transfer of energy to a conductive, biodegradable polymer tube will be empirically determined by performing a series of in vitro experiments. This research is essential to the future development of a transcutaneous stimulation system to promote in vivo nerve growth. ? ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-MDCN-L (10))
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Fertig, Stephanie
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Tda Research, Inc.
Wheat Ridge
United States
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Nguyen, Hieu T; Sapp, Shawn; Wei, Claudia et al. (2014) Electric field stimulation through a biodegradable polypyrrole-co-polycaprolactone substrate enhances neural cell growth. J Biomed Mater Res A 102:2554-64