Current research in neural tissue-engineering is focused on the development of advanced biomaterials for the creation of sophisticated neuro-tissue analogues, showing that mimicking the in vivo tissue disposition and functions is a useful tool for the study of brain-related issues in normal and pathological states. In addition, the most common approach for developing new drug therapies is to carry out in vitro investigation before in vivo test, thus, it is increasingly important to develop valuable models that can predict the results of in vivo studies.
This review presents the recent state of the art concerning the multifunctional role of biohybrid membrane systems in neuronal tissue engineering as innovative in vitro platforms with a well-controlled microenvironment, that enhance nervous system repair by guiding neuronal growth and differentiation. In vitro membrane-based models of brain tissue, created by combining neurons, membranes and therapeutic molecules, were described highlighting the innovative approaches directed to investigate specific biological phenomena as well as for testing biopharmaceutical compounds in neurodegenerative diseases, and drug delivery to the CNS. Furthermore, several examples of in vivo application of membrane-based stem cell delivery approaches for nerve regeneration were summarized.
Keywords: Biomaterials, membranes, biohybrid membrane systems, neuronal regeneration, neuronal tissue engineering, in vitro brain models, drug therapy, stem cell therapy.