Smart Materials for Central Nervous System Cell Delivery and Tissue Engineering
Traumatic, ischemic and neurodegenerative central nervous system (CNS) diseases and injuries result in pathological processes that cause irreversible destruction of neural tissue. Currently, there are limited surgical or pharmacological interventions in clinical use that can restore meaningful function in these disorders. Transplantation of neural cells and neural tissue engineering represent potential therapeutic strategies to repopulate CNS lesions with new viable neural tissue that may be capable of recapitulating this lost function. However, despite their considerable promise, CNS cell therapies still face a number of persistent challenges that hamper their performance and diminish their clinical translation potential. To improve prospects for clinical CNS cell transplantation, the development of innovative bioengineered smart materials will be required that are capable of facilitating enhanced local survival of transplanted cells, preventing undesired cell migration away from diseased tissue, directing differentiation outcomes in a temporally controlled manner, improving host–graft integration and mitigating immune rejection. Within this chapter, we outline the interwoven history of the development of biomaterials and cell therapies for various CNS injuries and diseases as well as how biomaterials are being applied to address CNS cell transplantation challenges. Furthermore, we highlight emerging smart biomaterial strategies that may resolve the persistent challenges facing CNS cell transplantation.