Engineering a 3D functional human peripheral nerve in vitro using the Nerve-on-a-Chip platform

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Development of “organ-on-a-chip” systems for neuroscience applications are lagging due in part to the structural complexity of the nervous system and limited access of human neuronal & glial cells. In addition, rates for animal models in translating to human success are significantly lower for neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, a preclinical in vitro human cell-based model capable of providing critical clinical metrics such as nerve conduction velocity and histomorphometry are necessary to improve prediction and translation of in vitro data to successful clinical trials. To answer this challenge, we present an in vitro biomimetic model of all-human peripheral nerve tissue capable of showing robust neurite outgrowth (~5 mm), myelination of hNs by primary human Schwann cells (~5%), and evaluation of nerve conduction velocity (0.13–0.28 m/sec), previously unrealized for any human cell-based in vitro system. To the best of our knowledge, this Human Nerve-on-a-chip (HNoaC) system is the first biomimetic microphysiological system of myelinated human peripheral nerve which can be used for evaluating electrophysiological and histological metrics, the gold-standard assessment techniques previously only possible with in vivo studies.

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