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Engineer develops detergent to promote peripheral nerve healing
Date:6/10/2008

AUSTIN, Texas A detergent solution developed at The University of Texas at Austin that treats donor nerve grafts to circumvent an immune rejection response has been used to create acellular nerve grafts now used successfully in hospitals around the country. Research also shows early promise of the detergent solution having possible applications in spinal cord repair.

The solution combined with an enzyme treatment conceived at the University of Florida in Gainesville is licensed by AxoGen, an Alachua, Florida-based company, and is used to create an acellular nerve graft from human cadaver tissue, called AVANCE Nerve Graft. Nationwide, nearly 100 patients suffering nerve injuries have received AVANCE grafts, all involving peripheral nerves which transmit sensory information between the brain and muscles.

Christine Schmidt, a biomedical engineering professor, developed the detergent solution in her lab with Terry Hudson and Curt Deister, chemical engineering graduate students at the time, who are now with Genentech in California and with AxoGen, respectively.

"Surgeons are reporting some early successes," she says.

These grafts are being used to treat people with traumatic injuries potentially resulting from lacerations, gunshots and everyday accidents, but it also has been used to treat cavernous nerves after the removal of the prostate. The AVANCE product has treated wounded soldiers and can treat the nerves in hands, arms, legs and the face.

Traditional treatment of these types of nerve trauma required harvesting an intact nerve from the patient's body and transplanting it to repair the damaged area. However, that requires two surgeries, is more costly and leads to loss of nerve function and possible infection at the donor nerve site, Schmidt says.

Synthetic, tubular grafts are another surgery repair option. However, Schmidt says they are limited to repairing very small injuries. She adds AVANCE nerve gr
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Contact: Christine Schmidt
schmidt@che.utexas.edu
512-471-1690
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert

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