A revolutionary nerve repair technology invented by Professor Minghao Zheng at the University of Western Australia and Perron Institute has received national television and The Australian coverage in recent weeks.  

Professor Zheng is the Institute’s Head of the Bone and Brain Axis Research group and Winthrop Professor at UWA Medical school. He is a global leader in the field of orthopaedic regenerative medicine, in particular the translation of novel science into clinical practice. 

The technology, which has Australian regulatory approval, is licensed by leading regenerative company, Orthocell. It involves joining a damaged nerve with a healthy one taken from elsewhere in the body. The surgeon wraps a collagen-based membrane around the join area to create a “healing chamber.” 

Clinical trials in patients with paralysis have shown that the process is effective for regaining sensation and some hand and arm function over time. In the clinical trials 23 patients have had this procedure and 82.6% percent (19 of 23) have regained use of muscles controlled by the repaired nerve after 24 months. 

While restoring movement in the upper body has been the focus, the technology may also be used in future in nerve repair for lower body injuries.  

Professor Zheng, who is also Orthocell’s Chief Scientific Officer, says the technique represents a paradigm shift.  

“The revolutionary collagen wrapping technique reduces the need for suturing and provides a barrier to protect the aligned ends of the two nerves to be conjoined, generating an ideal micro-environment to support nerve regeneration.  

“The collagen membrane keeps the body’s natural growth factors within this enclosed space and prevents external tissues from entering. In this way, the technology facilitates more effective peripheral nerve transfer surgery and reduces healing time. 

“The collagen wrap remains intact until the nerve fibres have reconnected with receptors and then gradually degrades naturally. It is easy for surgeons to use to improve the lives of patients with complex nerve injuries.”   

The television news item put together by respected senior journalist Alison Fan for Seven News also included interviews with orthopaedic surgeon and nerve specialist, Dr Alex O’Beirne, Paul Anderson, Managing Director Orthocell and Damien Hall, a patient who has successfully undergone this process. Watch it here

Photo caption: L-R Prof Minghao Zheng, Damian Hall, Dr Alex O’Beirne and Paul Anderson.