Nano-scaffolding (or nanoscaffolding) is a medical process used to regrow tissue and bone, including limbs and organs. Developed by the American military, the medical technology uses a microscopic apparatus made of fine polymer fibers called a scaffold. Damaged cells grip to the scaffold and begin to rebuild missing bone and tissue through tiny holes in the scaffold. As tissue grows, the scaffold is absorbed into the body and disappears completely.
Nano-scaffolding has also been used to regrow burned skin. The process cannot grow complex organs like hearts.
How it Works
Nano-scaffolding is very small, 100 times smaller than the human hair and is built out of biodegradable fibers. The use of this scaffolding will allow more effective use of stem cells and quicker regeneration. Nan-scaffolding is placed into the body at the site where the regeneration process will occur. Once injected, stem cells are added to the scaffolding. Stem cells that are attached to a scaffold are shown to be more successful in adapting to their environment and performing the task of regeneration. The nerve ends in the body will attach to the scaffolding by weaving in-between the openings. This will cause them to act as a bridge to connect severed sections. Over time the scaffolding will dissolve and safely exit the body leaving healthy nerves in its place.
This technology is the combination of stem cell research and nanotechnology. The ability to be able to repair damaged nerves is the greatest challenge and prize for many researchers as well as a huge step for the medical field. This would allow doctors to repair nerves damaged in an extreme accident, like third degree burns. The technology however, is still in its infancy and is still not capable of regenerating complex organs like a heart, although it can already be used to create skin, bone, and nails. Nano scaffolding has shown to be four to seven times more effective in keeping the stem cells alive in the body, which would allow them to perform their job more effectively. This technology can be used to save limbs that would otherwise need amputation.