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UCL Centre for Nerve Engineering


Study identifies a way to test regenerative therapies for nerve injury in humans

Study identifies a way to test regenerative therapies for nerve injury in humans

An interdisciplinary group of UCL CNE researchers have identified a new way to track nerve regeneration in humans using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Nerve injuries are debilitating, causing loss of movement and sensation and, in many cases, chronic pain and disability. Treatments for nerve injury are limited and improving outcomes for people affected is an important research focus in the field of regenerative medicine.

A wealth of therapies have been shown to improve nerve regeneration in the laboratory but the benefits of these treatments are yet to be seen by patients. A major contributor to this issue is that many of the metrics used to assess nerve regeneration in the laboratory are not feasible to perform in humans for practical reasons.

The team included scientists and clinicians from UCL, King’s College London, Royal Free Hospital and Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The study addresses some of these challenges by following up patients who underwent reconstructive surgery to restore function to the elbow flexor muscles. Measurements of muscle volume using MRI at different times following surgery were able to capture and predict improvements in muscle function. This represents an exciting step towards improving human clinical trials of regenerative therapies which have demonstrated promising results in the laboratory.

The research paper is available here.

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