Development of Schwann Cell-Encapsulated Alginate Scaffolds for the Repair of Peripheral Nerve Injury
Nerve conduits for peripheral nerve repair have progressed from simple silicon tubes to complex engineered scaffolds. Recent advances in scaffold fabrication have enabled the incorporation of neurotrophins, extracellular matrix components and various cells into scaffolds for enhanced biologic properties. Bioplotting is one of the emerging methods, where the scaffold material, in form of a solution, is dispensed from a needle, layer by layer forming a three-dimensional structure. It enables the use of a wide range of materials, ranging from synthetic polymers (like polycaprolactone, polyglycolic acid, etc.) to naturally occurring polymers like alginate, chitosan, etc. Notably, the use of hydrogels gives the advantage of incorporating live cells during the dispensing procedure.5 However, the use of hydrogel for the scaffold fabrication by bioplotting has shown to be a challenging task as their weak mechanical properties could cause collapse of the structure during the fabrication process.