For many years Peripheral Nerve Injuries (PNI) have been raising major concerns in regenerative medicine . Currently, the gold standard treatment for PNI is the autologous nerve grafting but it presents several drawbacks. In this study, an innovative combination of chitosan and keratin is obtained in order to create a novel nerve conduit (medical device) aimed at finding applications in the treatment of PNI. Keratin, our selected protein is included in a chitosan matrix owing to its natural bioinductive ability to improve cell–material interactions .
Chitosan/keratin membranes and nanofibers were produced using Solvent Casting and Electrospinning techniques, respectively. Both biomaterials were extensively characterized regarding the physicochemical and surface characteristics with methods such as Contact Angle, FTIR, Atomic Electron Microscopy, Differential Scanning Calorimetry and Dynamic Mechanical Analyses. Regarding the biological assays, metabolic activity and cell attachment were also evaluated on both keratin scaffolds and compared to chitosan samples, using relevant cell types directly seeded on the biomaterials.
These results, together with the fact that these biomaterials have appropriate physicochemical and mechanical properties, indicate the suitability of the scaffolds for Peripheral Nerve Regeneration.