The Cure for Traumatic Brain Injury?
In an extensive opinion piece recently published online on Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, researchers make the case for pioneering work underway seeking to understand and repair brain function at the molecular level.
Also known as TBI, traumatic brain injury most commonly results from a sudden, violent blow to the head, in some cases driving broken bone into the brain, or from a bullet or other object piercing the skull and entering the brain.
This trauma sets off a complex constellation of reactions in the brain that can impair thinking and reasoning, behavior and movement.
Each year, at least 10 million TBIs that are serious enough to result in hospitalization or death occur around the world.
Most attempts at treatment have targeted the physical damage with drugs aimed at protecting neurons — the cells that carry messages from the brain to the rest of the body — from further damage. But while such attempts have shown promise in animal studies, they’ve all failed to help human patients.
Over the past three decades, more than 30 such clinical trials have ended in failure.
More recently, evidence has been amassed by researchers showing that the human brain has “a significant, albeit limited” ability to repair itself both physically and functionally, including:
• Angiogenesis — the creation of new blood vessels.
• Neurogenesis — the formation of new nerve cells.
• Oligodendrogenesis — the development of several types of cells including those that make up the myelin sheath, a protective coating on parts of nerves.
• Axonal sprouting — the process of in which undamaged axons, threadlike parts of nerve cells that carry signals to other cells, grow new nerve endings to relink damaged neurons.
These findings will greatly assist physicians in treatment and care of those with traumatic brain injury. This is great news!