Local Neurotrophin Delivery to Enhance Peripheral Nerve Regeneration


This project focuses on the local delivery of nerve growth promoting drugs at the site of peripheral nerve injury. We have received funding from the DOD and NIH to investigate both drug delivery device development and the efficacy of locally delivered small molecules and proteins. Our lab has developed a biodegradable nerve conduit that can predictably release drugs to the site of an injury using diffusion kinetics. The device is capable of functioning in gap injuries, crush injuries or in conjunction with autologous nerve grafts. Our lab has studied the device in a rodent sciatic nerve injury model and we have identified candidate drugs for local delivery.

Student Role

The student engaged on this project will have an opportunity to engage in different aspects of this research. For example, students in the past have assisted with the surgical procedures, assisted with animal care and physiologic assessments (walking track analysis), performed immunohistochemistry on sections of peripheral nerve to help determine the extent of nerve regeneration, assist with device manufacturing, etc. There are many different potential roles the student could function in and this can be determined based on interest. Students have also tested the diffusion kinetics of new molecules to determine if they are potential candidates for use with our device.


Students will learn how to navigate in a laboratory setting. This is essential as components of their future education and training may take place in a lab setting. Students will learn how to clearly present their data and update the group as to their progress at weekly meetings. Students will learn new techniques: micro neurorrhaphy, immunohistochemistry, retrograde labeling, chick DRG harvest and micro device development. These techniques may prove useful in their future education or career.

Jay Agarwal
Associate Professor

College of Medicine

Students meet with me weekly at our lab meeting. Here we will discuss their progress and setbacks related to the project. I will provide guidance on how to overcome obstacles or direct them to the appropriate resources. Students will also meet with me to discuss future educational and career goals. I will be a source for insight and guidance as it relates to their academic pursuits. Students will be given recommendations on appropriate reading materials for the successful completion of their projects.