|Funding for:||UK Students, EU Students|
|Funding amount:||Standard Bursary|
|Placed On:||14th June 2019|
|Closes:||9th August 2019|
Supervisors: Prof. Ipsita Roy, Prof. John Haycock, Dr. Frederik Claeyssens, Prof. Fiona Boissonade and Prof. Stefano Geuna
Peripheral nerve injuries through trauma, and sometimes surgery, result in over 300,000 cases each year in the EU. In contrast to the central nervous system, peripheral nerves have some ability to repair. Individuals who sustain injury with no loss of tissue can be treated by directly suturing proximal and distal ends together. However, end-to-end repair is not possible when there is loss of significant nerve tissue. Injuries greater than 1-2 cm usually require autografting, but have poor functional outcome. Patients typically lose motor and/or sensory function, with morbidity at the donor site. Implantable nerve guide conduits (NGCs) are used to support short gap injuries. A major challenge is to increase regeneration distance and address longer critical gap distances of 10-20 mm. Thus, advanced NGCs are needed for critical gap repair. In this PhD the student will aim to develop NGCs for critical gap repair using a family of FDA approved natural polymers, Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), that are produced using bacterial fermentation. The Roy lab has already proven the neuro-regenerative properties of PHAs1 and hollow PHA blend based NGCs have exhibited excellent nerve repair in vivo rat models. Hence, for critical gap repair, the PHA blend based NGCs will be further functionalised using physical and biological cues. Introduction of internal nano/micro topography using PHAs and other natural polymers and controlled release of active factors will be explored. A variety of processing methods including dip moulding, 3D-printing, melt/solution electrospinning will be used for the production of the final product. The prototype NGCs will be evaluated using a dorsal root ganglion 3D in vitro chick model and mouse/rat in vivo models.
The project will be linked to the University of Sheffield Neuroscience Institute (https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/neuroscience-institute/home) led by Professor Dame Pamela Shaw. The Institute brings together internationally recognised expertise in medicine, science and engineering. Professor John Haycock, Dr Fred Clayssens and Professor Fiona Boissonade, joint co-supervisors, are active members within this Institute. Prof. Stefano Geuna, University of Torino, Italy, will also be part of the supervisory team. The selected PhD student will be registered in Materials Science & Engineering, University of Sheffield and also be part of the Neuroscience Institute and will benefit from the resources linked to both, with the opportunity to participate in respective seminars and meetings.
Recent publications by supervisors that are relevant to the project:
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