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Can brain cells be regenerated in brain injury patients?

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there were 2.5 million traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in 2010 alone. These injuries can result from a number of causes, but the most common include car accidents, falls and sports related injuries. Although treatments are available, there is currently no cure for the damage caused by these injuries.

A new study is looking into an innovative and aggressive treatment that could regenerate brain cells, effectively replacing damaged brain cells. The study is supported by hockey legend Gordie Howe and his son, a physician. Dr. Howe spoke on behalf of his father, who suffers from dementia and is recovering from a massive stroke, stating that the study could be a "lasting legacy" for Gordie that will help "people's quality of life for decades to come."

Why is this study different?

This study is different because it uses a type of stem cell as treatment. Stem cells gained media attention years ago with the use of controversial embryonic stem cells for scientific studies. The stem cells in this study are different since they do not come from embryos, but from adult donors. An adult volunteer provides a bone marrow donation which is then taken to the lab. Here, the stem cells within the marrow are multiplied. A single donation can result in the development of up to 600,000 treatments.

The study, a collaboration between ProMedica and a California stem-cell company, will involve 24 participants. These participants will range in age from 18 to 45 years old and will have suffered from a brain injury for anywhere between six months and five years. The participants will receive a dose of stem cells through an injection into their bloodstream. The study should run for approximately 12 months

Researchers with the study note that one of the primary problems with brain injury is inflammation. The stem cells are expected to reduce this inflammation and either trigger the regeneration of cells or preserve preexisting cells.

What is the impact of this study?

If the results of the study are as expected, it could result in a new treatment method for patients who suffer from TBIs. There is no discussion of the potential expense of the treatment, but medical treatments can be expensive.

Those who are injured as the result of another's negligence are likely eligible to receive compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. This can help provide funds to cover expensive medical treatments and other bills associated with the accident. Contact an attorney to discuss your options.

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