Biologically inspired approaches to drug delivery for nerve regeneration
As the biological processes governing nerve regeneration have become elucidated over the past decades, interest has developed in manipulating these processes to improve nerve regeneration. Drug delivery to the regenerating nerve has the potential for major clinical applications in neurodegenerative diseases, spinal cord injury and peripheral nerve injury or sacrifice. This article reviews the evolution of the field of drug delivery to the regenerating nerve, from simple local applications of neurotrophic agents in solution and osmotic pump delivery, to the existing approaches involving novel biomaterials and genetically manipulated cell populations. A discussion of the various known nerve growth-promoting agents, and the chemical considerations involved in their delivery, is included. A perspective on the role of tissue engineering approaches for nerve regeneration in the future is offered.