Bridging the divide between neuroprosthetic design, tissue engineering and neurobiology
Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA
Department of Chemical Engineering, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA
Neuroprosthetic devices have made a major impact in the treatment of a variety of disorders such as paralysis and stroke. However, a major impediment in the advancement of this technology is the challenge of maintaining device performance during chronic implantation (months to years) due to complex intrinsic host responses such as gliosis or glial scarring. The objective of this review is to bring together research communities in neurobiology, tissue engineering, and neuroprosthetics to address the major obstacles encountered in the translation of neuroprosthetics technology into long-term clinical use. This article draws connections between specific challenges faced by current neuroprosthetics technology and recent advances in the areas of nerve tissue engineering and neurobiology. Within the context of the device–nervous system interface and central nervous system implants, areas of synergistic opportunity are discussed, including platforms to present cells with multiple cues, controlled delivery of bioactive factors, three-dimensional constructs and in vitro models of gliosis and brain injury, nerve regeneration strategies, and neural stem/progenitor cell biology. Finally, recent insights gained from the fields of developmental neurobiology and cancer biology are discussed as examples of exciting new biological knowledge that may provide fresh inspiration toward novel technologies to address the complexities associated with long-term neuroprosthetic device performance.