A new study conducted by researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and published in the journal STEM CELLS has shown that stem cells may be a viable treatment in preserving brain tissue and reducing inflammation in patients suffering from traumatic brain injury.

Lead investigator Charles Cox, Jr., M.D., has been studying the use of cell therapy for neurological diseases and traumatic brain injury for years, and this current study builds on those previous investigations.

"TBI is a serious brain condition that affects thousands of people each."

What is TBI?
TBI is a serious brain condition that affects thousands of people each year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that TBI results in over 1.3 million emergency department visits, 275,000 hospitalizations and 52,000 deaths each year. 

TBI occurs due to extreme impact to the head. Symptoms include fatigue, vomiting, loss of consciousness or, at the minimum, being disoriented and confused, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Mayo Clinic's outlined symptoms could, of course, be both short- and long-term. BrainLine.org noted that damage can, under some circumstances, be devastating and ultimately change who the person is and how they act.

As you can see, Cox Jr.'s new study is groundbreaking because it indicates that stem cell therapy could help those who have suffered from TBI.

How the study was conducted
To conduct the study, researchers examined 25 patients between the ages of 18 and 55 who had TBI but no other serious injuries or brain damage that could skew the trial's results. The patients were registered into a dose-escalation format and broken up accordingly.

Within 48 hours after their injury, researchers performed cell processing, bone marrow harvesting and re-infusion. They then studied the results with diffusion sensor imaging and magnetic resonance imaging.

As we noted previously, the study reported that "there was no serious adverse events related to harvest/infusion." Furthermore, stem cells preserved critical structural areas of the brain and reduced inflammation.

"The next step is to begin the ensuing phase (Phase 2b) of clinical trials."

The next steps
Cox Jr. explained that the next step is to begin the ensuing phase (Phase 2b) of clinical trials with nearly $7 million in funding it was awarded by the Department of Defense.

"The data derived from this trial moves beyond just testing safety of this approach," said Cox Jr. "We now have a hint of a treatment effect that mirrors our pre-clinical work, and we are now pursuing this approach in a Phase 2b clinical trial sponsored by the Joint Warfighter Program within the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity, as well as our ongoing Phase 2b pediatric severe TBI clinical trial – both using the same autologous cell therapy."

TBI is a serious injury that has few present-day therapies, Science Daily noted. This new study, however, gives hope to thousands if not millions of people who have TBI.