Stem Cells for Traumatic Brain Injury: Can They Make a Difference?
Stem cells have been capturing the attention of researchers and medical experts for some time now, and for good reasons. As a major contender in the world of regenerative medicine, these cells have the unique ability to regenerate, reproducing more cells just like themselves. Plus, they can also transform into specialized cells with unique functions, such as blood, brain, or nerve cells. In the stomach and skin, stem cells work consistently at renewal and restoration. In other areas, such as the brain, other processes are involved in regeneration.
While experts are still working to understand the full potential that stem cells hold, early research has already uncovered remarkable potential for these powerful agents. In particular, two neurology experts at Pacific Neuroscience Institute have embarked on a clinical trial to study the effects of stem cell therapy following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Participants must have had chronic motor deficits for at least a year after sustaining TBI.
The Challenges of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Roughly 2.5 million individuals are estimated to suffer TBI each year in the U.S. alone. It makes up nearly a third of all injury-related fatalities, and can occur as a result of concussions, contusions, and penetration (i.e., a bullet wound). When TBI occurs, the
blood cancer bone marrow transplant flow to the brain is disrupted, leading to the death of brain cells (neurons). Neurons can’t regenerate or repair themselves on their own, and as a result, other parts of the body are affected. Many people suffer lasting disabilities from TBI.
Treating Traumatic Brain Injury with Stem Cells
In the clinical trial, researchers will use bone marrow-derived modified stem cells. They’ll be delivered to the patients using minimally invasive neurosurgery, with the guidance of computer imaging to be strategically inserted at the site of the damage. The goal is to reverse the damage caused by TBI, such as immobilization of limbs.
Experts are hopeful that, with the stem cells’ beneficial healing properties, patients will witness measurable improvements following brain injury. Promising results have already been published after stem cells have been used to promote healing in other conditions, such as heart attack recovery. There have also been noteworthy results in clinical trials for stroke treatment. For instance, patients whose limbs were immobilized following a stroke were able to lift their arms after receiving stem cell therapy.
While there is still more research to be done, as experts explore new frontiers in stem cell therapy, it’s possible that minimally invasive yet powerful regenerative treatments will continue to emerge, helping to restore quality of life for people with TBI and similar conditions.
This post was written by Becky Palmer, a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for traumatic brain injury, also known as stem cell therapy for traumatic brain injury. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.