Prof. Orit Shefi

The Alexander Kofkin Faculty of Engineering

Nanoengineered personalized platforms for neuronal regeneration

Orit Shefi is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Engineering, head of Neuro-engineering and Regeneration laboratory and a member of the  Institute of Nanotechnologies and Advanced Materials. She has joined Bar Ilan after completing  her Ph.D. in Physics from Tel-Aviv University, and after postdoctoral studies in Neurobiology at University of California, San Diego.

Prof. Shefi’s team is  developing holistic solutions to nerve injuries with specific personalized design. These include engineered platforms to be implemented in the injured site and delivery methods of therapeutic agents to specific target sites following pathologies mapping.

Nerve injuries, often as a result of blunt trauma or neuroma, cause loss of motor and/or sensory functions and degenerative effects, arising the need for effective clinical treatments. Damage is not just to patients but also to community. Many efforts are devoted to advance solutions. In the lab we develop personalized platforms for peripheral nerve injuries. In nerve injuries, axon continuity is disrupted or completely loss, and in many cases surgical intervention becomes necessary. Current solutions include direct repair and graft repair techniques. We have developed a promising strategy of using artificial nerve guidance conduits (NGC) which aims to guide the regenerating nerves to their intended target implanting new materials, synthetic or natural based, to provide support for optimal regrowth. Our NGCs mimic the natural composition and structure of specific nerve tissue. We develop ways to implant a conduit by injection of a solution, than controlling its shape and internal structure according to the specific needs. Our approach allows in-site treatment to be integrated with the unique characteristics and needs of the patient. Currently we extend the platform by examining the incorporation of stem cells into the engineered platforms (autologous or allogeneic).

To improve repair efficiency we study novel strategies for targeted drug delivery. With a method we recently have developed we can inject drugs systemically and treat pathologies locally. We functionalize NPs, having a ‘smart’ delivery system of biomolecules, together with integral guidance cues. We have shown accumulation of drugs in specific areas in the central and peripheral nervous system.

We aim to enhance the therapeutic potential of the platforms and to translate them into practice to allow better personalized solutions for neuronal repair.

 

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