Biodegradable, electrically conducting polymer for nerve regeneration

Life Sciences : Medical Devices

Available for non-exclusive licensing


  • Christine Schmidt, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Joel Collier, Ph.D. , Biomedical Engineering
  • Tyrell Rivers, Ph.D. , Chemical Engineering
  • James Camp , Chemical Engineering
  • Venkatram Shastri, Ph.D. , Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Terry Hudson, Ph.D. , Chemical Engineering
  • Robert Langer, Ph.D. , Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Background/unmet need

There is ample motivation to develop a polymer that is both biodegradable and electrically conducting which will not pose long-term health risks and which has desirable electrically conductive properties. Such a polymer does not currently exist. Biodegradable polymers are desired for biomedical applications since they do not pose a long-term health risk. Electrically conducting polymers are desired since they have beneficial effects on wound healing, including the repair of damaged nerves, cartilage, skin, and bone.

Invention Description

Electrical charges and electrical fields have beneficial healing effects on various tissues, including bone, cartilage, skin, connective tissue, cranial and spinal nerves, and peripheral nerves. In addition to its utility for peripheral nerve regeneration, the polymer could also be applied to other areas of tissue engineering as well, such as spinal cord regeneration, wound healing, bone repair, and muscle tissue stimulation.


  • Regeneration and repair of nerves, cartilage, bone, and skin
  • Local stimulation of desired tissue accomplished by electrically stimulating the polymer after implantation
  • Stimulates either the proliferation or differentiation of various cell types


    This is a novel, biocompatible, and biodegradable derivative of polypyrrole (PP). The resulting polymer contains the electrically conducting PP segments connected via hydrolysable (degradable) ester linkages.

Market potential/applications

Applications in the nervous system include the treatment of spinal cord injury and plastic and reconstructive surgery in which peripheral nerve grafts are required. Other studies have suggested that applied electrical fields can lead to regression of tumors. Potential clinical applications of electrical stimulation range from the enhancement of healing of bone fractures and damaged cartilage to the treatment of ulcers and pressure sores on diabetic and bedridden patients. Competitive advantages of this product include the potential to repair nerves damaged in accidents or in surgery (especially in cases where large tumors have been removed). The potential market for this application would be individuals who have peripheral nerve damage, more than 200,000 cases each year. The non-biodegradable polypyrrole has been shown to stimulate nerves to grow twice as fast.

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

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