New tech reduces cell death in TBI rat study

Scientists have long sought a way to lessen the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Now, a team from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is touting a device that can reduce the extent of damaged tissue and prevent cell death in those suffering from a brain injury.

In patients with TBI, the cells at the impact site are damaged and die. Nearby injured cells release toxic substances causing swelling and restricting blood flow and oxygen levels. The result: more cell death that affects brain function. But what if the fluid and toxic substances could be removed? That was the question posited in a three-year, $1.5 million, Defense Department-funded study.  

To test this hypothesis, the researchers evaluated the tech, known as mechanical tissue resuscitation, in rats. It works by using negative pressure to create an environment boosting the chances of cell survival.

During the evaluation, the team placed bioengineered material matrix directly on the injured area in the rats and attached to a flexible tube connected to a vacuum pump. Over the next 72 hours, fluid was drawn from the injured site. The results were positive in those rats treated with the tech, with researchers seeing a significant decrease in swelling in those subjects. In fact, 50% more brain tissue was preserved in those treated with the tech versus those that were not. The researchers are hopeful that the tech can soon advance to clinical trials.

Beyond TBI, the tech may also hold promise for stroke patients and those experiencing brain hemorrhage.

- check out the Wake Forest release