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A spinal cord surrogate with nanoscale porosity for in vitro simulations of restorative neurosurgical techniques

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The development of strategies for the regrowth of axons through a section of damaged spinal cord could benefit from the availability of an in vitro model in which the potential clinical utility of candidate techniques could be assessed preliminarily. We have designed a spinal cord surrogate for this purpose; it uses 0.6% agarose gel as the parenchymal component and has a fibrous-like longitudinal structure. At this concentration, the pore size distribution of the homogeneous gel ranges from less than 10 nm to more than 1000 nm while the average pore size ranges from 100 to 300 nm. The average pore size is larger than that of the extracellular space in the tissues of the central nervous system, which is of the order of 20 nm. However, the addition of fibres to the surrogate gel model significantly modifies its longitudinal permeability, as assessed by monitoring the distribution of marker dye material during direct infusion into the surrogate. This makes the model useful for evaluating infusion-based techniques that will ultimately be employed for the delivery of growth factors and other agents to the growing axonal processes in injured spinal cord. The role foreseen for this type of surrogate in investigations of the nanomechanics of restorative neurosurgical procedures is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-591
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002

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