Biodegradable, Electrically Conducting Polymer for Tissue Engineering Applications

Life Sciences : Materials and Compounds

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 no effective treatment for damage to nerves comprising the central nervous system. Current clinical treatments include surgical end-to end repair involving the direct reconnection of individual nerve fascicles, but this method prevents regeneration and is useful only if nerve ends are directly adjacent. Moreover, nerve grafts used to repair a nerve over a gap often lose function at the donor site, mismatch nerve cable dimensions, and require multiple surgeries. Electrical charges and electrical fields have beneficial healing effects on various tissues, including bone, cartilage, skin and connective tissue, cranial and spinal nerves, and peripheral nerves. Unlike the many electric materials that depend on small mechanical deformations, electrically conducting polymers allow for external control over stimulation. However, currently available electrically conducting polymers are not biodegradable.

Invention Description

To take advantage of the role of electrical charges in cell proliferation and differentiation stimulation, this novel, biodegradable polymer derives itself from an electrically conducting polymer. The polymer functionalizes to form segments connected by hydrolyzable ester linkages, making it useful for in situ stimulation of nerve regeneration. In addition, the polymer could be applied to other areas of tissue engineering, such as spinal cord regeneration, wound healing, bone repair, and muscle tissue stimulation. This polymer can also be used as a drug delivery device, where a drug or other biologically active compound can be coupled to the scaffold and released when implanted in the body.


  • Biodegradable
  • Electrically conducting polymer
  • Locally stimulate desired tissue
  • Externally controlled stimulation
  • Controllable degradation rate, wettability, and mechanical strength


  • Hydrolyzable ester linkages
  • In vitro attachment and differentiation of primary nerve cell explants
  • Electrical stimulus enhances neurite length

Market potential/applications

This technology is useful in biomedical applications, including nerve regeneration and repair of cartilage, bone, and skin.

IP Status

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