Few conventional treatment options are available for patients diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. However, stem cells are regenerative medicine which offers the chance of treating the loss of neurological function caused by the second wave of injury. Stem cell therapy for traumatic brain injury TBI has the ability to regenerate injured cells in the body, helping to reverse some symptoms and prevent further damage caused by secondary injury.
What is a traumatic brain injury?
Traumatic brain injury is a result of disruption or loss of function in the brain as a result of outside mechanical force impacting the skull and brain. Automobile accidents, falls, assaults/blows, sports-related injuries, and explosive blasts are some of the most common causes of TBI. Traumatic brain injury starts with a primary brain injury / head injury, which is the immediate result of the outside force. This causes focal or diffuse brain injury patterns. However, TBI has a secondary phase of injury that evolves over time. This delayed injury is characterized by a complex cascade molecular and biochemical events that lead to neuroinflammation, brain edema, and delayed neuronal death.
How can stem cells help?
Stem cells are able to differentiate into all types of cells needed by the body. Different stem cells differentiate into different types of cells, but anytime a new cell is created it is the result of a stem cell. Neurons, however, are a little more difficult to differentiate, and that is why brain injuries don’t typically heal the same way the rest of the body does. To make this a more feasible recovery, sending a mass of stem cells into the spinal cord can create more opportunity for new neurons to be created. By replacing these neurons (and other lost cells) quickly and early, it is possible that further delayed neuronal death can be prevented, avoiding possible delayed injury and symptoms.
Below are video interviews recorded during treatment with Beike stem cells. The families showcased in these videos talk about their personal stories and their experience of the treatment including the improvement noticed. The improvements mentioned in these videos are typical, however it does not guarantee that all patients may have the same improvements.
Clinical Trials and Research
Conclusion: “Autologous BMMNC infusion for adults with severe TBI is safe and logistically feasible.” Full study here.
On page 13: “There was no immediate or delayed toxicity related to the cell administration within the 6-month follow-up period. Neurologic function was significantly improved at 6 months after MSC therapy .” Full study here.
Conclusion: “Clinical trials have shown that MSC transplantation may decrease TBI patients’ sequela and has the potential to become an effective treatment modality . MSC safety and efficacy have been investigated in patients with complications following TBI  and determined that earlier interventions lend themselves to better results.” Full study here.
FAQ's about TBI and stem cells
After TBI, people often report symptoms following injury, but improve over time. The most common symptoms after brain injury are known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS). These symptoms include but may not be limited to:
- physical complaints (dizziness, fatigue, headaches, visual disturbances, trouble sleeping, sensitivity to light and sound, poor balance),
- cognitive changes (poor concentration, memory problems, poor judgment and impulsivity, slowed performance, difficulty putting thoughts into words),
- psycho-social concerns (depression, anger outbursts, irritability, personality changes, anxiety).
Diagnosis of TBI is difficult because affected individuals may not show physical signs of injury. Clinically, doctors will give the diagnosis of TBI on the basis of the history of brain injury and clinical tests, which include EEG, CT scans, MRIs and so on.
The most common symptoms in brain trauma survivors are cognitive deficits and motor dysfunctions. Right now, there is no effective conventional treatment for these symptoms to promote functional recovery except for routine medical intervention and care. Fortunately, there are many promising drug- or cell-based therapeutic approaches emerging recently, including erythropoietin and its carbamylated form, statins, bone marrow stromal cells, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and so on. These novel treatment methods will reduce brain injury via neuroprotection and promote brain remodeling via angiogenesis, neurogenesis, and synaptogenesis with a final goal to improve the functional outcome of TBI patients.
Majority of treated patients in Beike are suffering with sequelae of traumatic brain injury. They are treated with a variety of cell sources, such as umbilical cord blood stem cells (UCBSCs) and umbilical cord derived mesenchymal stem cells (UC-MSCs). It has been shown that these kinds of stem cells will become a novel therapeutic option for traumatic brain injury. According to follow-up data, many TBI patients have shown symptom improvements in:
- Carrying out of simple activities (41.4%);
- Balance (44.8%);
- Memory (27.6%);
- Concentration (58.6%);
- Sleep disturbance (51.7%);
- Mood and emotions (41.4%);
- Understanding (37.9%)
However, when discussing improvements, it is important to remember that improvements might differ greatly from one patient to another. This is due to many factors, such as a patient’s medical condition, duration of living with the injury, severity, complications, physical condition, age, and so on. Therefore, improvement cannot be guaranteed.
Stem cell therapy for traumatic brain injury TBI will focus on secondary brain injury, which is the result of biochemical and physiological events, ultimately leading to neuronal cell death. Recent research has indicated that the potential therapeutic benefit of stem cell therapy could be the result of the following mechanisms:
- Secretion of growth factors to promote functional outcome after brain injury via neurogenesis and synaptogenesis;
- Production and inducement of many cytokines and trophic factors to enhance angiogenesis and vascular stabilization in the lesion boundary zone;
- Decrease of the glial scar formation and promotion of glial-axonal remodeling. Thus, stem cells act in a pleiotropic way to stimulate brain remodeling after brain injury by influencing several neural restorative functions such as synaptogenesis, angiogenesis, and neurogenesis.
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