An NJIT Engineering Team Wins an Edison Patent Award for Technology to Repair Damaged Spinal Cords

Written by: Tracey Regan,
Biomedical engineer Treena Arinzeh is one of a trio of NJIT-affiliated researchers to win a 2017 Edison Patent Award.

A trio of NJIT-affiliated biomedical engineers will be honored tonight at the 2017 Edison Patent Awards Ceremony for groundbreaking work on nerve growth and repair.

The team, composed of Treena Arinzeh, a professor of biomedical engineering, George Collins, an adjunct professor, and alumna Yee-Shuan Lee, Ph.D. ’10, now a researcher at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, a Center of Excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, are winners in the biomedical category.

Their patent describes a novel strategy for combining a piezoelectric scaffold with neural cells to regenerate nerve tissue in spinal cord injuries. Piezoelectricity is an electrical charge created by mechanical force that is also used in sonar and sound technologies, among others.

The Research & Development Council of New Jersey, which confers the patent awards, described their invention as “highly innovative by combining smart biomaterials with tissue engineering approaches utilizing neural cells.”

The technology does not rely on an external energy source or electrodes for electric stimulation, and can be fabricated into a fibrous form to provide additional contact guidance for cell attachment and axonal growth. The scaffold supports neural cell growth and attachment, which can promote axon regrowth and achieve integration with the host synaptic pathways.

The NJIT team is among 14 winners in a variety of categories who will receive their awards at the 38th Edison Patent Awards Ceremony & Reception held tonight at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.