Researchers are looking into the possibility that stem cells could be used to treat patients suffering from a variety of brain disorders such as brain injury or strokes, in which blood vessels leading to the brain are blocked or blood vessels inside the brain burst. Stem cells are capable of turning into any type of cell in the body, and could therefore be a vital part of a reconstructive, restorative effort to repair damage that may have been sustained by the brain.
Late last year researchers led by principal investigator Charles S. Cox, Jr., M.D., at the George and Cynthia Mitchell Distinguished Chair in Neurosciences at University of Texas Health showed that stem cell therapy that utilized a patient's own cells could be moved from the safety testing stages, and was ready for preclinical testing as a therapeutic for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Their findings indicated that the stem cells could reduce neuroinflammation that occurs after trauma, and could help to shield brain tissue from damage.
The Centers for Disease Control report that around 1.7 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury every year, causing about 275,000 are hospitalizations and 52,000 deaths. TBI is clearly a serious public health concern; we would benefit greatly if an effective treatment for this condition was created.