Electroactive/conduictive silk-based nanofibre nerve conduits for peripheral nerve repair

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Materials


Silk nanofibre conduits are attractive for peripheral nerve conduits, with fibre alignment acting as guidance cues for growing neuronal cells (axons). Nascent research indicates that electrically conductive substrates may provide further cues for axon guidance. In this work silk is rendered electrically conductive using graphene oxide (GO) and reduced graphene oxide (rGO), as well as by blending/coating with the known electrically conductive polymer PEDOT:PSS, an alternative strategy based on coating silk with recombinant protein reflectin (obtained via synthetic biology approaches) is being investigated; reflectin (that drives camouflage in cephalopods) is known to be one of the highest proton conductors in natural materials. Films and nanofibres of these variously conductive materials are being investigated to establish their effect on neuronal cell guidance in passive mode.

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509565/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
1786315 Studentship EP/N509565/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2020 Adrian Magaz
Description Development of a family of scaffolds with a range of attractive conductivities for electrically responsive tissues such as nerve.
Furthered understanding regarding mechanism of cell response.
Collaborations established with research groups in Manchester Insitute of Biotechnology, Lancaster University and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore.
Findings of this work presented nationally and internationally.
Exploitation Route The conductive substrates could be used in a wide range of applications other than in the bio/pharma field (i.e. tissue engineering/ regenerative meidcine), such as flexible energy harvest devices or sensors.
Sectors Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description Society: patients with nerve injuries There are an estimated 1 million people suffering from peripheral nerve injury (PNI) every year, of which around 40% cases occur in Europe. The proposed reasearch will enable faster and cheaper discovery of technologies as an alternative to conventional treatments, supporting and guiding the axons during their growth, while avoiding scar tissue infiltration in the gap. Knowledge: tissue engineering and synthetic biology. Bridge between (bio)materials science, synthetic biology and tissue engineering communities. Effective communication between these will foster new collaborations Economy: Pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries Special attention to device structure and manufacturing with vital role in the industrialization process.
Sector Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Description Lancaster University 
Organisation Lancaster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research group strengths on stimulatory and degradable systems based on natural and synthetic polymers.
Collaborator Contribution Research group expertise in conductive polymers and drug delivery.
Impact Collaboration still on-going. A patent will be filed shortly, and a communication paper will be written and submitted for publication aftewards.
Start Year 2019
Description Manchester Instittue of Biotechnology 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Expertise on biomaterials manufacturing
Collaborator Contribution Expertise on synthetic biology
Impact A research paper will be submitted for publication soon.
Start Year 2018
Description Attedance to international conferences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Attendance to present research at several international conferences:
- International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies, Singapore.
- TERMIS EU Chapter, Greece.
- Scandinavian Society for Biomaterials Conference, Finland
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2019
Description Attendance to national conferences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Attedance to present research at national conferences:
-A*STAR-UK Partner Universities Conference, UK.
- Sheffield Silk Conference, UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017