• Bioengineering in action

    Bioengineering in action

    The need for an alternative approach

The problem

In spite of refinements to microsurgical techniques over the years, the outcomes for patients undergoing nerve repair have not improved at the same rate.

Many patients are left with incomplete hand or arm movements and a large number never return to work resulting in considerable socio-economic costs as well as prolonged psychosocial problems for these patients.

The Polynerve solution

The need for an alternative approach delivering better patient outcomes has led to a collaboration between neurobiologists, surgeons and biomaterials scientists at The University of Manchester, where an artificial nerve conduit has been created – Polynerve – to guide and improve nerve regeneration.

The Polynerve conduits are made using a blend of polycaprolactone (PCL) and polylactic acid (PLA). The material has excellent compatibility with body tissues and the required flexibility and strength for use in nerve surgery – for example, in the arm or hand.

The development of this innovation has focused on novel micro-patterning of the conduit’s inner lumen. This permits Schwann cells (the supportive cell of the peripheral nerve) to align and direct the nerve regeneration across the gap caused by trauma to a peripheral nerve.

Less than

of patients return to work within one year



Extensive R&D work has already been undertaken

A major grant has been secured from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Invention for Innovation programme

First-in-man trials are currently underway at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust