Professor Raman Venkataramanan
Graduate student Firuz Feturi

Upper extremity nerve injuries are a common problem affecting more than 2% of trauma patients and leading to permanent disability. Full functional return after nerve repair is rarely achieved. Tacrolimus (TAC), a immunosuppressive drug has been shown to hasten recovery and improve functional outcomes in animal models of nerve injury by accelerating axon regeneration, reducing scar formation, and promoting cell proliferation. However, toxicity of tacrolimus limits its clinical use for this indication.

PittPharmacy Professor Raman Venkataramanan, PhD and graduate student Firuz Feturi along with Pitt Medicine Assistant Professors Mario Solari, MD and Alexander Spiess, MD have received a grant from the American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand for their proposal “Improving peripheral nerve regeneration and functional return by sustained local delivery of tacrolimus with an injectable hydrogel applied along the length of the nerve.”

In this proposal they plan to develop a novel, safe, and effective injectable tacrolimus hydrogel formulation that can be applied locally along the length of the nerve after surgical nerve repair. With this approach, nerve repairs will be more successful, leading to improved function in patients with proximal nerve injuries in the upper extremities, with minimal systemic side effects of tacrolimus. Local delivery of tacrolimus may improve nerve repair and functional recovery as well.

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