Research

CNS Injuries

CNS Injuries

DEVELOPING STRATEGIES TO BRIDGE CNS DEFICITS

The annual incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) amounts to approximately 1.7 million new cases each year in The United States. Trauma to the CNS leads to irreversible neural damage and loss of function that can be devastating to a person’s quality of life. Unfortunately, the multifaceted nature of CNS trauma makes targeted therapeutic application difficult, and current strategies to bridge CNS deficits are limited in their ability to effectuate long-term repair, and facilitate functional recovery.  In efforts to address these limitations, we are developing multi-functional biomimetic glycomaterials for stem cell transplantation, and trophic factor enrichment after moderate TBI.

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PNS Injuries

PNS Injuries

DEVELOPING STRATEGIES TO BRIDGE PERIPHERAL NERVE DEFICITS

Injuries to the peripheral nervous system (PNS) can lead to significant loss of motor and sensory functions. Currently, the most widely used method for the treatment of peripheral nerve injuries is autologous (self) nerve transplants, which involve sacrificing nerves from elsewhere within the patient. This treatment is greatly limited by the scarcity of nerves within the patient. We are currently developing nerve guidance conduits capable of facilitating peripheral nerve regeneration, and promoting functional recovery in a challenging nerve gap.

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Neural Interfacing

Neural Interfacing

The recent explosion in development of micro/nanotechnologies is increasingly providing opportunities to use devices to investigate and/or aid neurological functionality. Neural interfaces link the nervous system to internal or external devices – creating possibilities for bi-directional information exchange between different areas of the nervous system, thereby helping restore or supplement impaired neurological function. Commonly referred to as Brain Computer Interfacing (BCI), this technology can potentially help return lost motor and sensory function to individuals suffering from debilitating injuries to the nervous system.

A key component of BCIs are intracortical recording interfaces (IRIs), which record and conduct neural signals required to control an external assistive device such as a robotic arm. In reality, however, the robust foreign body response and blood-brain barrier breach triggered due to the prolonged presence of indwelling neural interfaces in brain tissue causes degradation of signal quality, and chronic device failure. Our work is focused on the design and development of novel coatings, and  non-invasive imaging strategies to help aid IRI implantation, and to prolong the chronic recording function of indwelling IRIs.

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