With neural stem cell research for traumatic brain injury, [Deborah Shear, Ph.D.]
one of the things you look at [Walter Reed Army Institute of Research]
is the amount of research that's been done.
And in comparison with other areas,
say Parkinson's or Alzheimer's
or spinal cord injury or stroke,
it's amazing how few research experiments
have been done with stem cell research in traumatic brain injury,
and you have to wonder why.
If you do a MEDLINE search
on terms like stem cells
and progenitor cells
and traumatic brain injury, you get about 138 hits;
meaning there are 138 published manuscripts out there
that light up from those terms.
About a third of them are review articles,
only a small portion of which are
focused on traumatic brain injury and stem cell research.
About another third of them are on
so traumatic brain injury upregulates endogenous neurogenesis--
cells are responding to the injurious effects
and trying to hone in on that area of injury--
and there's a lot of research on that,
but there are only about 40 or 50 articles
that look at neural transplantation
for traumatic brain injury,
where there's thousands for Parkinson's
or stroke or Alzheimer or spinal cord injury.
And I think the reason for this is
that it's much, much more challenging
with traumatic brain injury.
And of those 40 or 50 articles
most of them have come to the conclusion,
or if you put them all together
the common thread that you would see,
is that it's not about cellular replacement.
The recovery that they're seeing
in these animal models
is probably coming from
neuroprotective factors that the cells are
secreting when they're put into the brain--
In that case you have to wonder--
are we beating a dead horse going down this road
of neural stem cell transplantation
and traumatic brain injury.
And I would say we're not.
There's a lot to be learned
from neural transplantation therapy
at the experimental--at the preclinical--level
in terms of how the brain responds to injury.
These cells, when we contract them
after putting them in the brain
at different time points after injury,
in different locations from the injury--
both proximal to the injury and distal--
using different techniques
and tissue engineering constructs,
manipulating the ability of the cells to put out
one type of trophic factor over another,
that we can then understand better
and get a very unique and inner glimpse
of how the brain is responding to injury
and how the brain might be responding to
any therapeutic pharmaceutical
treatments that we try to employ.
So, you know, I think there is a
tremendously powerful tool here
with stem cell research and TBI,
and it's been relatively untapped.
and we're just getting started.
We're not finished yet.
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There is a paucity of research on stem cell therapy and TBI compared with Parkinson's, stroke, and Alzheimer's. Continued research might reveal more.
Produced by Brian King, Ashley Gilleland, and Noel Gunther, BrainLine.
Deborah Shear, PhD is the section chief for the in vivo Neuroprotection Labs, Brain Trauma Neuroprotection & Neurorestoration Branch; Center of Excellence for Psychiatry & Neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) in Silver Spring, MD.
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