Date of Award

Spring 5-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Sciences


David J. Neivandt

Second Committee Member

Douglas Bousfield

Third Committee Member

Benjamin Harrison

Additional Committee Members

Caitlin Howell

Paul Sweetnam


Peripheral neuropathy is estimated to afflict 20 million people in the United States. Most cases of neuropathy result from physical injuries and trauma arising from automobile accidents and war. Peripheral nerves have the intrinsic ability to regenerate over time, bridging the injury gap. However native regeneration is limited to a distance of only a few millimeters. Current methods utilized to assist in the regeneration of peripheral nerves over distances exceeding those amenable to native repair include nerve autografts and allografts, and implantation of conduits. Nerve autografts are regarded as the most effective method but require a second surgical site to access a donor nerve. Allografts are similar to autografts except the donor nerve is from another individual and the patient therefore requires a prolonged regimen of immunosuppressant medication. Conduits currently on the market have equal or lower success rates relative to nerve autografts. Issues that arise with the use of the current generation of conduits involve foreign body reaction, and the potential need for second surgeries to remove the conduit. It is proposed that a biocompatible material such as nanocellulose may serve as a viable alternative conduit construction material. The current work determined means by which conduits comprising cellulose nanofibrils may be produced and evaluated their efficacy in regeneration after a sciatic nerve injury in a murine model. Development of a GMP compliant process to produce such cellulose nanofibril conduits was completed and a tolerability study was conducted in non-human primates