Adult stem cells have been long studied for their abilities to repair and replace cells that have been damaged. In addition, they are showing how they may protect living neural cells. For certain brain conditions, these cells could hold remarkable potential to prevent against neurological disorders, among other types of long-term damage.
In particular, researchers from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute and Loma Linda University Health have recently leveraged MRIs to predict the effectiveness of stem cells for treating a specific brain injury sustained during birth, perinatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (HII).
The condition occurs in two to four of every 1,000 babies born in the U.S., and can result in cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, epilepsy, and behavioral deficits, among other complications. It can be caused by various complications, such as maternal infections, disrupted blood pressure levels, and umbilical cord compression. Researchers used MRIs to guide the use of stem cells for treatment in eligible newborns could help to prevent brain damage. When applied to neural cells which are injured but not dead, the stem cells may help to prevent against long-term complications, including disabilities.
The research performed by the scientists shows that MRIs can be used to measure HII brain injury in two key areas: the penumbra and the core. In animal studies, rats with a larger penumbra and smaller core who received stem cell therapy experienced better neurological outcomes, such as improved memory. The stem cells targeted the penumbra and helped restore it to normal tissue. The ability to classify brain lesions can help medical experts determine which newborns may benefit from stem cell therapy, as only those with large penumbral versus core volume should undergo treatment.
Experts also believe that leveraging MRIs to predict the effectiveness of neural stem cell therapy could benefit other patient populations, including those with Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries, and other neurological conditions. As additional research is performed, the approaches to stem cell therapy will only be refined further, and better insights into exactly how the treatment can benefit different patient groups will continue to be uncovered.
Today, stem cell therapy for traumatic brain injury has been also studied as a potential therapeutic option for patients. In addition, patients may also benefit with hyperbaric oxygen therapy in conjunction with stem cell therapy. Although not a cure, stem cells continue to impress in the field of regenerative medicine for those seeking an alternative option of treatment.
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.