A recently published paper by Simão Laranjeira and Rebecca Shipley from UCL Centre for Nerve Engineering developed a new in silico framework to help design peripheral nerve injury repair constructs. The work was developed within the remit of the UCL Centre for Nerve Engineering of creating novel strategies to treat peripheral nerve injury. The framework is informed by experimental data from the literature and predicts how neurites regrow after an injury including, for example, their response to mechanical cues.
A case study is explored where a repair construct is fabricated from stiff biomaterial fibres embedded in an aligned collagen biomaterial (see example simulations in the Figure below). The framework employs a genetic algorithm to identify the optimal number, distribution and fibre radii within the material to achieve the fastest regeneration of neurites and can be readily extended to other materials and repair scenarios.
Example model simulations of 400 growing neurites inside a peripheral nerve injury repair construct comprised of stiff material fibres embedded in an aligned collagen hydrogel. Neurites respond to the underlying stiffness field. Simulations compare the effect of 15 (A,B,C) versus 200 (D,E,F) fibres and demonstrate the potential regenerative impact.
For more information on the work carried out, access the paper here.
This article was written by Simão Laranjeira, a post-doctoral research associate under Dr Rebecca Shipley at UCL.
Laranjeira S, Pellegrino G, Bhangra KS, Phillips JB, Shipley RJ. In silico framework to inform the design of repair constructs for peripheral nerve injury repair. J R Soc Interface. 2022 Mar;19(188):20210824. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0824. Epub 2022 Mar 2. PMID: 35232275; PMCID: PMC8889181.