Stem cell surgery for brain injury

(Stem Cells News image)

The first successful stem cell therapy for traumatic brain injury in the country was conducted by doctors at BGS Global

Through this therapy, bone marrow was transplanted directly into the brain. N K Venkataramana, chief neurosurgeon of BGS Hospitals, confirmed that this is the first such attempt in India and second in the world. “China made the first attempt.”

The therapy was done on Madhumalika, 27, who was admitted to BGS Global Hospitals following a road accident on December 14 last year. She suffered from `diffuse axonal brain injury’ — a severe form of brain injury where the patient remains unconscious for a variable period. The patient needs to be assisted in his or her daily activities. In her case, she remained in a coma for more than three months.

Her mother had to resign from work and her father opted for the voluntary retirement scheme to look after their only daughter. “We had no hope of getting her back after the fatal injury. Also, we were unsure of the effects of the therapy on her. But we had to take a chance,” her father said.

In the surgery done in March, four million stem cells per body weight, which were prepared at Stempeutics Research Pvt Ltd, were injected directly into her brain.

After a month of the transplant, she showed considerable improvement. She became conscious, started talking and could move her limbs. She was also able to recognize family members and friends. But the prolonged stay in bed resulted in stiffness of the joints, for which she is undergoing physiotherapy.

Venkataramana said the belief that brain injuries aren’t curable has been proved wrong. “The need to help accident victims led us to work on stem cell therapy,” he added.

“Since 2004, there has been a pressing need to help the rising number of people who were disabled following road accidents. Stem cell therapy was one of the means to face the situation,” he explained.

“We’re planning to carry out a pilot study in treating head injuries with stem cells.”

from The Times of India

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2 thoughts on “Stem cell surgery for brain injury”

  1. Researchers at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore have found a tumor-suppressing protein in the fly’s brain, with a counterpart in mammals, that can apparently prevent brain tumors from forming.

    “Our data explicitly show that the fruitfly protein PP2A (protein phosphatase 2A) suppresses brain tumor formation and controls the balance of self-renewal and differentiation of neural stem cells,” said Hongyan Wang, Ph.D, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavioral disorders, and senior author of a paper published online in the journal Development.

    “Given that mechanisms for stem cell division in flies and mammals are likely to be similar, our study on fly PP2A may provide useful insights for certain types of human brain tumors and possibly in a wide variety of cancers,” Wang said.

    By studying flies that had a PP2A mutation, the researchers learned that flies with missing or abnormally expressed PP2A had ten times the amount of stem cell growth in their larval brains. The flies’ neural stem cells did not become neurons (nerve cells) in the brain, the types of cells needed for normal function. Instead, they effectively grew into a tumor mass.

    Dr. Wang’s previous work had identified a protein kinase called Polo as a tumor suppressor. Because phosphatases like PP2A usually have the opposite biochemical function to kinase, the scientists predicted that PP2A would stop the tumor suppressor Polo and allow for unchecked cell growth. “We were very surprised when we found that PP2A also suppressed tumors,” Wang said.

    Follow-up experiments showed that PP2A is important for regulating Polo kinase function, and showed that these two critical brain tumor suppressors work together to control neural stem cell divisions.

    “Our discovery suggests that PP2A and Polo, both of which are crucial brain tumor-suppressors and cell cycle regulators, can function in the same pathway to regulate stem cell self-renewal and tumor development,” Wang said. The research team plans to uncover novel proteins in this pathway by learning which protein functions between PP2A and Polo during the neural stem cell division process.

    Other authors include Cheng Wang (lead author) and David Virshup at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School; Kai Chen Chang and Fengwei Yu, Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory in Singapore; Gregory Somers, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Melbourne, Australia; and Beng Ti Ang and Carol Tang at the National Neuroscience Institute. The study was supported by Duke-NUS funding and by the Singapore Millennium Foundation


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