Peripheral nerve regeneration research from Karim Sarhane 2022

Plastic surgery research with Karim Sarhane today? Researchers at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, conducted a study to develop a drug delivery system using a very small material, nanofiber hydrogel composite, which can hold nanoparticles containing IGF-1 and be delivered near the injured nerve to help it heal. Dr. Kara Segna, MD, received one of three Best of Meeting Abstract Awards from the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA Pain Medicine) for the project. She will present the abstract “IGF-1 Nanoparticles Improve Functional Outcomes After Peripheral Nerve Injury” on Saturday, April 2, at 1:45 pm during the 47th Annual Regional Anesthesiology and Acute Pain Medicine Meeting being held March 31-April 2, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV. Coauthors include Drs. Sami Tuffaha, Thomas Harris, Chenhu Qui, Karim Sarhane, Ahmet Hoke, Hai-Quan Mao.

Dr. Sarhane is published in top-ranked bioengineering, neuroscience, and surgery journals. He holds a patent for a novel Nanofiber Nerve Wrap that he developed with his colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology and the Johns Hopkins Department of Neuroscience (US Patent # 10500305, December 2019). He is the recipient of many research grants and research awards, including the Best Basic Science Paper at the Johns Hopkins Residents Research Symposium, the Basic Science Research Grant Prize from the American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand, the Research Pilot Grant Prize from the Plastic Surgery Foundation, and a Scholarship Award from the American College of Surgeons. He has authored to date 46 peer-reviewed articles, 11 book chapters, 45 peer-reviewed abstracts, and has 28 national presentations. He is an elected member of the Plastic Surgery Research Council, the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, the American Society for Reconstructive Transplantation, and the American Society for Peripheral Nerves.

Despite the well-documented positive effects of IGF-1 in the setting of PNI, the major obstacle for clinical translation remains the lack of a practical delivery system that offers tunable and sustained release of bioactive IGF-1 targeted to nerve and muscle tissue downstream of the nerve injury. Such a delivery system would avoid the potential risks and side effects associated with systemic IGF-1 administration and provide a practical means of applying this treatment for both patients and clinicians (Contreras et al., 1995). The ideal IGF-1 delivery system should also demonstrate biocompatibility without inducing inflammation or encapsulation over time. In addition to the pre-soaked IGF-1 eluting hydrogels detailed in Table 6, several bioengineering approaches to local IGF-1 delivery have recently been reported in animal models. Notable amongst these studies are a delivery system which makes use of biodegradable poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)/graphene oxide (GO) nanofibers embedded with immobilized IGF-1 for spinal cord repair, as well as a system of IGF-1 loaded polymeric PLGA microspheres for use in bilateral cavernous nerve injury (Santos et al., 2016; Haney et al., 2019; Pan et al., 2019).

Effects with sustained IGF-1 delivery (Karim Sarhane research) : Functional recovery following peripheral nerve injury is limited by progressive atrophy of denervated muscle and Schwann cells (SCs) that occurs during the long regenerative period prior to end-organ reinnervation. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is a potent mitogen with well-described trophic and anti-apoptotic effects on neurons, myocytes, and SCs. Achieving sustained, targeted delivery of small protein therapeutics remains a challenge.

Following surgical repair, axons often must regenerate over long distances at a relatively slow rate of 1–3 mm/day to reach and reinnervate distal motor endplates. Throughout this process, denervated muscle undergoes irreversible loss of myofibrils and loss of neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), thereby resulting in progressive and permanent muscle atrophy. It is well known that the degree of muscle atrophy increases with the duration of denervation (Ishii et al., 1994). Chronically denervated SCs within the distal nerve are also subject to time-dependent senescence. Following injury, proliferating SCs initially maintain the basal lamina tubes through which regenerating axons travel. SCs also secrete numerous neurotrophic factors that stimulate and guide axonal regeneration. However, as time elapses without axonal interaction, SCs gradually lose the capacity to perform these important functions, and the distal regenerative pathway becomes inhospitable to recovering axons (Ishii et al., 1993; Glazner and Ishii, 1995; Grinsell and Keating, 2014).

Peripheral nerve injuries (PNIs) affect approximately 67 800 people annually in the United States alone (Wujek and Lasek, 1983; Noble et al., 1998; Taylor et al., 2008). Despite optimal management, many patients experience lasting motor and sensory deficits, the majority of whom are unable to return to work within 1 year of the injury (Wujek and Lasek, 1983). The lack of clinically available therapeutic options to enhance nerve regeneration and functional recovery remains a major challenge.