According to research findings recently published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, scientists discovered that implanted stem cells may be able to help heal some types of traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI.
Traumatic brain injuries, which include diagnoses such as closed head injury, subdural hematomas, diffuse axonal injuries, and cerebral contusion can result from many different causes such as motor vehicle accidents, anoxia or hypoxia from birth trauma or carbon monoxide poisoning, and sports injuries. Classification of the trauma includes both the primary injury mechanisms like blunt trauma, penetrating trauma, or the rapid rotational axonal injury often seen in automobile collisions and shaking injuries, as well as second injury mechanism such as swelling of the brain and intracranial bleeding.
The findings published in the Journal of Neurotrauma (the official journal of the National Neurotrauma Society) describe the discovery of important molecular mechanisms that allow implanted human neural stem cells to aid recovery from traumatic brain injury. University of Texas professor Ping Wu explained that axons and dendrites – thin structures that arise from the body of the neuron cell – are the paths for neuron-to-neuron communication, and when they are damaged, the function of the neurons is also lost. The axons in a human brain can be as long as one yard, with hundreds of branches that provide connections to other neurons. Their length and delicate structure make them particularly vulnerable to injury.
Stem cell transplantation was found to both prevent further axonal injury and promote axonal re-growth, due to a number of molecular mechanisms that were previously unknown, Wu explained. The researchers identified hundreds of proteins that respond differently after injury and grafting with neural stem cells, then gathered and grouped this data into an internet database through which the information is shared with other researchers.
“We’re quite excited about these discoveries, because they’re highly novel,” Wu said. “This kind of detailed study is essential to developing safe and effective therapies for traumatic brain injury.”
In the past, it was thought that the damage from brain injuries of this sort was essentially untreatable – that the brain could not heal itself beyond a certain limited point, and that therapies targeted at this microscopic level were not feasible. Research such as this provides hope to millions of brain injury suffers of new treatments.
If you or a family member has suffered an injury of this type, it is very important to consult promptly with an attorney who is experienced in handling traumatic brain injury cases. The Law Offices of Edward A. Smith has extensive experience assisting clients who have suffered the often devastating effects of traumatic brain injuries.