Advances in Nerve Guidance Conduit-Based Therapeutics for Peripheral Nerve Repair

Peripheral nerve injuries have high incidence rates, limited treatment options and poor clinical outcomes, rendering a significant socioeconomic burden. For effective peripheral nerve repair, the gap or site of injury must be structurally bridged to promote correct reinnervation and functional regeneration. However, effective repair becomes progressively more difficult with larger gaps. Autologous nerve grafting remains the best clinical option for the repair of large gaps (20–80 mm) despite being associated with numerous limitations including permanent donor site morbidity, a lack of available tissue and the formation of neuromas. To meet the clinical demand of large gap repair and overcome these limitations, tissue engineering has led to the development of nerve guidance conduit-based therapeutics. This review focuses on the advances of nerve guidance conduit-based therapeutics in terms of their structural properties including biomimetic composition, permeability, architecture, and surface modifications. Associated biochemical properties, pertaining to the incorporation of cells and neurotrophic factors, are also reviewed. After reviewing the progress in the field, we conclude by presenting an outlook on their clinical translatability and the next generation of therapeutics.