April 6, 2012

New Regenerative Medicine Advances Have Brain Injury Healing Potential

by Levin & Perconti

Regenerative medicine may hold to the key to correct brain injuries in the future. Our Illinois brain injuries attorneys appreciate that medical experts have been trying to tackle the problem in many ways, both to prevent the “surge” of damage that follows after a traumatic brain injury as well as to actually spur the brain to correct parts of itself after it is has already been damaged. In many ways the former problem is harder, because correcting a brain that are damaged is often more daunting task than coming up with an intervention before additional parts of the organ are hurt.

One area of medicine that likely holds the key to helping fix a damaged brain is regenerative medicine. Each Chicago brain injury attorney at our firm has followed along as scientists have been working to perfect techniques to essentially coax the body into healing itself. Dr. Samuel I. Stupp from Northwestern University is a leader in this area as director of the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine. Dr. Stupp recently gave a presentation at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society where he discussed the latest developments in this area which may one day have huge dividends for brain injury treatment.

According to a summary of the presentation in Science Daily, Dr. Stupp explained how regenerative medicine is an emerging field that combines chemistry, biology, and engineering. Essentially, the goal of the field is to spur regeneration of tissues and organs that have been hurt in a variety of ways. When it comes to the brain, damage caused by a traumatic brain injury or developmental problems at birth could theoretically all be corrected with these techniques.

However, while the theory of regenerative medicine is straightforward, actually making it happen as desired is an immense challenge. Fortunately, many of the best chemical, biological, and engineering minds are working on these problems. At the latest meeting the doctor explained recent advances in the area that may help overcome previous hurdles in the field.

For example, a new nanostructure has been created which can act as scaffolding while new tissues and organs are re-grown. This new scaffolding is vital in allowing growth to occur in the body that is actually sustainable. Doctors have been aware of a substance called VEGF that spurs re-growth of blood vessels. VEGF has been used in mice to form new blood vessels when others have been damaged. However, the trials on humans did not work. That is because the VEGF quickly broke down when used in the human body, without time to actually grow as needed.

The new nanostructure seeks to correct that, because it provides a surface upon which the blood vessels can securely grow before breaking down. Eventually, after a few weeks, the nanostructure itself breaks down and dissolves, leaving only the securely re-grown vessel. The nanostructures are tiny filaments of protein that glue themselves together. These structures are amazingly small. If 50,000 of the objects were strewn together, they would still fit on the width of a human hair. Our Illinois brain injury lawyers appreciate the amazing potential of these and similar advances to one day help those who are in need of regeneration in parts of their brain.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Amazing Medical Treatment Allows Girl’s Heart to be “Trained” to Grow New Part

Stem Cell Bank Launches New Trials Which Could be used to Treat Birth Injuries