Twenty million Americans suffer from peripheral nerve injury, which results in approximately $150 billion health-care expenses annually in the United States. Approximately half of patients had an inadequate functional recovery. One major hurdle is the reinnervation and neuromuscular regeneration. In many cases, during peripheral regeneration, the muscle undergoes atrophy and becomes un-receptive to reinnervation.
There is evidence that one-time electrical stimulation may trigger nerve sprouting but not sufficient to sustain the outgrowth of axons; in addition, it is not clear whether electrical stimulation can help maintain and restore nerve-muscle communication.
Professor Song Li’s laboratory, in collaboration with Professor John Rogers’s group at Northwestern University, develop a bioabsorbable and implantable device for programmable and non-invasive wireless electrical stimulation. They demonstrate, for the first time, that repetitive electrical stimulations can delay muscle degeneration and facilitate the restoration of nerve-muscle communication. These findings will open new avenue for the application of biophysical therapies for regenerative medicine. This work was published in Nature Communications. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-19660-6