Reconstructive microsurgery studies from Karim Sarhane 2022? One-fifth to one-third of patients with traumatic injuries to their arms and legs experience nerve injury, which can be devastating. It can result in muscle weakness or numbness, prevent walking or using the arms, and reduce the ability to perform daily activities. Even with surgery, some nerve injuries never recover, and currently there are not many medical options to address this problem. In 2022, the researchers plan to perform this research on more primates to triple the size of the original group. The study can then move into phase I clinical trials for humans.
During his research time at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Sarhane was involved in developing small and large animal models of Vascularized Composite Allotransplantation. He was also instrumental in building The Peripheral Nerve Research Program of the department, which has been very productive since then. In addition, he completed an intensive training degree in the design and conduct of Clinical Trials at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The combination of nanoparticle carriers with hydrogels as a hybrid delivery system has recently come into favor for purposes including passively controlled drug release, stimuli-responsive drug delivery, site-specific drug delivery, and detoxification. The addition of a hydrogel to a nanoparticle delivery system allows for an added level of tunability as well as increased assurance that the nanoparticles remain at the local site of delivery in vivo (Gao et al., 2016; Norouzi et al., 2016). A promising approach being pursued by our group for repair of PNI involves encapsulation of IGF-1 into nanoparticles that provide sustained release of IGF-1 for over 6 weeks. The nanoparticles are then suspended within a biomimetic nanofiber hydrogel composite carrier to facilitate in vivo application and preliminary results have been encouraging (Santos et al., 2016). The approach involves injection of the composite hydrogel into the denervated target muscle and around the nerve distal to the site of injury, such that the released bioactive IGF-1 diffuses through the target tissues. Our unpublished data suggests that IGF-1 does not act on regenerating axons in gradient-dependent fashion, as uniform delivery along the distal nerve results in a robust treatment effect. However, the question of gradient dependence has not been specifically addressed to our knowledge and warrants further investigation. To achieve maximal treatment effect, IGF-1 will likely need to be delivered for the duration of the regenerative period, which can last many months or even years. It is unlikely that an engineered drug delivery system will be developed that can achieve this duration of release with a single dose. We therefore anticipate that interval ultrasound-guided reinjections will be needed, with the dosing schedule being dependent on the duration of drug release.
Recovery by sustained IGF-1 delivery (Karim Sarhane research) : To realize the therapeutic potential of IGF-1 treatment for PNIs, we designed, optimized, and characterized a novel local delivery system for small proteins using a new FNP-based encapsulation method that offers favorable encapsulation efficiency with retained bioactivity and a sustained release profile for over 3 weeks. The IGF-1 NPs demonstrated favorable in vivo release kinetics with high local loading levels of IGF-1 within target muscle and nerve tissue.
The amount of time that elapses between initial nerve injury and end-organ reinnervation has consistently been shown to be the most important predictor of functional recovery following PNI (Scheib and Hoke, 2013), with proximal injuries and delayed repairs resulting in worse outcomes (Carlson et al., 1996; Tuffaha et al., 2016b). This is primarily due to denervation-induced atrophy of muscle and Schwann cells (SCs) (Fu and Gordon, 1995).
The amount of time that elapses between initial nerve injury and end-organ reinnervation has consistently been shown to be the most important predictor of functional recovery following PNI (Scheib and Hoke, 2013), with proximal injuries and delayed repairs resulting in worse outcomes (Carlson et al., 1996; Tuffaha et al., 2016b). This is primarily due to denervation-induced atrophy of muscle and Schwann cells (SCs) (Fu and Gordon, 1995). 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).