Protocol for a phase I trial of a novel synthetic polymer nerve conduit 'Polynerve' in participants with sensory digital nerve injury (UMANC)

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Background: Peripheral nerve injuries are common, with approximately 9,000 cases in the UK annually. Young working individuals are predominantly affected, leading to significant health and social implications. Functional recovery is often poor with impaired hand sensation, reduced motor function and pain and cold intolerance. Where a nerve gap exists, nerve grafting remains the gold-standard treatment but creates a second surgical site, sensory deficit at the donor site, possible neuroma formation and has limited availability. Current commercially available synthetic and resorbable nerve conduit alternatives are reported to be rigid and inflexible. This study will set out to examine the first-in-man use of a new nerve conduit device ‘Polynerve’ to repair small nerve gaps in digital sensory nerves of the hand. Polynerve is a degradable co-polymer of poly-ε-caprolactone and poly-l-lactic acid, which is shaped as a cylinder that has greater tensile strength, flexibility and less acidic degradation compared with current commercially available synthetic nerve conduits. In addition, it has a novel micro-grooved internal lumen that aids Schwann cell ingress and alignment to improve nerve regeneration.
Methods: In total, 17 eligible participants will be recruited to undergo repair of a transected sensory nerve of the hand using the Polynerve device. All participants that receive the nerve conduit device will be followed for a period of 12 months post-surgery. The primary endpoint is safety of the device and the secondary endpoint is degree of sensory nerve regeneration through the conduit assessed using standard sensory testing (2-PD, WEST monofilament testing and locognosia).
Discussion: The ‘UMANC’ trial is a single-centre UK-based, prospective, unblinded, phase I clinical trial of a novel nerve conduit device. We aim to demonstrate the safety of Polynerve as a synthetic, biodegradable nerve conduit and improve the treatment options available to patients with significant nerve injuries.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date24 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Peripheral nerve injury
  • nerve conduit
  • biomaterials
  • Poly-ε-caprolactone
  • Poly-L-lactic acid


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