Regenerative medicine is progressing towards the ability to reliably repair nerve damage. As for the growth of blood vessels, this is challenging and a work in progress, with some demonstrated successes but still a way to go yet towards the realization of a comprehensive technology platform for nerve regeneration:
We previously developed a collagen tube filled with autologous skin‐derived stem cells (SDSCs) for bridging long rat sciatic nerve gaps. Here we present a case report describing a compassionate use of this graft for repairing poly‐injured motor and sensory nerves of upper arms of a patient. Preclinical assessment was performed with collagen‐SDSCs implantation in rats after sectioning sciatic nerve. For the patient, during the 3‐year follow‐up period, functional recovery of injured median and ulnar nerves was assessed by pinch gauge test and static two‐point discrimination and touch test with monofilaments, along with electrophysiological and MRI examinations.
Preclinical experiments in rats revealed rescue of sciatic nerve and no side effects of patient‐derived SDSCs transplantation (30 and 180 days of treatment). In the patient treatment, motor and sensory functions of the median nerve demonstrated ongoing recovery post‐implantation during the follow‐up period. The results indicate that the collagen/SDSCs artificial nerve graft could be used for surgical repair of larger defects in major lesions of peripheral nerves, increasing patient quality of life by saving the upper arms from amputation.