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Traumatic Brain Injury

The current treatments for patients with traumatic brain injury in the United States include surgery to reduce intracranial pressure and medication to prevent seizures and inflammation. However, these treatments have limited efficacy, and patients often experience long-term disability or death. FDA regulations have left patients few options in the U.S.

Can Stem Cell Therapy Help TBI?

However, Stem cell therapy utilizing mesenchymal cells (MSCs) derived from donated umbilical cord tissue has emerged as a highly successful therapy for traumatic brain injuries outside of the United States. MSCs are multipotent stem cells found in various tissues, including umbilical cords. Umbilical mesenchymal stem cells (UMSCs) have several advantages over other sources of MSCs, including easy accessibility, no ethical concerns, and they do not provoke immune responses. This stem cell rich tissue is donated after a healthy birth, so no mother or child experience any ill effect.

UMSCs have the ability to differentiate into several cell types, including neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. They also have immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them an attractive option for treating TBI.

Do Studies Support Stem Cell Treatments?

Studies have shown that UMSCs can improve functional outcomes in subjects suffering with TBI.

How Stem Cells Help With Traumatic Brain Injury

For example, a study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma in 2016 demonstrated that intravenous administration of UMSCs improved functional recovery in those with traumatic brain injuries. The UMSCs migrated to the injured brain tissue, decreased inflammation, and promoted the regeneration of damaged neurons.

Another study published in Stem Cells Translational Medicine in 2018 investigated the efficacy of UMSCs in subjects with a TBI. The study showed that intravenous administration of UMSCs significantly improved neurological function and reduced brain tissue damage.

The mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of UMSCs in TBI are complex and not fully understood. However, several possible mechanisms have been proposed. One is that UMSCs can promote the survival and differentiation of endogenous neural stem cells (stem cells capable of self-renewal and multipotentiality). This can lead to the regeneration of damaged neurons and the formation of new neural networks.

UMSCs can also modulate the inflammatory response after a traumatic brain injury. Following a TBI, there is an increase in pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can exacerbate brain damage. UMSCs can secrete anti-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-10 and transforming growth factor-beta, which can reduce the inflammatory response and promote tissue repair.

Can The Brain Actually Be Healed After a Traumatic Brain Injury?

UMSCs can also secrete trophic factors, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). These factors can promote angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels), neuroprotection, and neurogenesis (the forming of new neurons in the brain), which can aid in the recovery of brain function.

The cost of stem cell therapy for TBI

In addition to intravenous administration, other routes of UMSCs delivery are also being used in treatment, such as intrathecal injection and intranasal delivery. Intrathecal injection involves injecting the UMSCs into the cerebrospinal fluid, which can allow for direct access to the injured brain tissue. Intranasal delivery involves administering the UMSCs through the nasal cavity, which can allow for targeted delivery to the brain.

TBI is a devastating condition that can lead to long-term disability or death. Current treatments have limited efficacy, and there is a need for new therapies that can promote tissue repair and functional recovery. UMSCs have shown well as a successful therapy for treating traumatic brain injuries.