Study Shows Reduction in Memory Declines by Blocking Spike in Stem Cell Growth After a Brain Injury

There are about 2 million Americans who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) annually. The severity of the trauma may differ from patient to patient but leads to a wide range of motor, behavioral, cognitive as well as intellectual disabilities in the patients. These disabilities may be long term or short term. TBI is a global health concern and despite the huge number of injuries, the treatment options are limited.

There have been many treatments and studies that suggested excessive burst of new brain cells after TBI helped in the recovery of the patients better. Breaking this common assumption, Dr. Viji Santhakurmar (Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, Rutgers University) and her colleagues proved otherwise with their report. They challenged this assumption and found that an excessive neurogenesis may, in fact, lead to memory decline, seizures.

Neurogenesis aftera a Brain Injury May Lead to Memory Decline, Seizures

It has been proposed that increase in neurogenesis aids in the repair of the injured brain network. However, survivors of a traumatic brain injury often develop life-changing disorders such as a decrease in memory as well as epileptic seizures.

Researchers found there was a considerate increase in the new nerve cell growth (neurogenesis) that was probably to help replace the damaged or destroyed brain cells. However, Santhakumar and her colleagues found evidence contradictory to the popular belief. They found the spike in brain cell growth may, in fact, lead to post-injury seizures and long-term memory decline.

This team from Reuters University examined brain injuries in lab rats and found that brain cells at the injury site play an important role. These cells double in number within 3 days after injury; however, they decrease by more than half after a month as compared to rats with no brain injury. The neural stem cells develop into mature cells too showed a similar increase and decrease pattern. Thus, proving they were responsible for the loss of brain cells.

As quoted by Professor Viji Santhakumar in a press release, “There is an initial increase in birth of new neurons after a brain injury but within weeks, there is a dramatic decrease in the normal rate at which neurons are born, depleting brain cells that under normal circumstances should be there to replace damaged cells and repair the brain’s network. The excess new neurons lead to epileptic seizures and could contribute to cognitive decline. It is normal for the birth of new neurons to decline as we age. But what we found in our study was that after a head injury the decline seems to be more rapid.”

According to the study, post-injury changes in the development of new cells along with the neural precursor cell proliferation led to a long-term decline in the neurogenic capacity. When the post-injury neurogenesis was reduced early on resulted in dentate excitability and seizure susceptibility.

To achieve this goal of slowing down nerve cell growth after injury, researchers used anti-cancer drugs that are under clinical trials currently. These drugs are known to block the growth and survival of new nerve cells. The drugs were able to stop the rapid proliferation of the nerve cells and prevented the long-term decline in brain cells that lead to memory decline in lab rats. It also showed the rats had reduced risk of seizures after administration of these drugs.

Setting The Record Straight on Meat Health

Red meat is often wrongly portrayed as being unhealthy. Even chicken has been getting attacked by some in the media as being unhealthy or not environmentally friendly. Vegan, fish and other non-meat diets have been proposed as healthier alternatives. The result of this onslaught of negative meat messages has influenced many persons including moms and dads to drastically cut back on their meat and poultry purchases. Perceptions may be seen as reality, yet truth trumps non truths. Parents and other consumers want what is best for their health and that of their families. They are also aware that a lot of false information is out there and as such are open to scientific facts that can correct their misconceptions. Below are the facts:

1) “You would need to eat a massive amount of spinach to equal (the iron content) in a steak,” says Christopher Golden, an ecologist and epidemiologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (As quoted by in the article ‘Brain food- clever eating’.)
2) Let’s get precise. For a woman to receive her recommended daily intake of 18 mg of iron would need just 300 grams of cooked bovine liver, 625 grams of cooked beef or an astounding 2.4 kg of spinach!
3) In addition, the Iron found in vegetables is harder to absorb than the iron found in meat as it is attached to fibre which inhibits its absorption.

1) Being deficient in the micronutrients found in meat have been linked with low IQ, autism, depression and dementia says Dr. Charlotte Neumann, a pediatrician at the University of California, as quoted in the above article.
2) Zinc found in meat is crucial for learning and memory.
3) Vitamin B12 found in meat preserves the sheaths that protect nerves.

Due to its antioxidant powers, zinc is involved in creating antibodies to fight free radicals that increase our risk for chronic diseases.

1) The protein in meat helps build and repair body tissues.
2) Muscles are made of protein. That is why athletes who are building muscle strength increase their meat protein consumption.
3) The protein and zinc found in meat are important for muscle growth and repair.

Meat contains all of the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot make by itself. Say ‘hello’ to histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lycine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, threonine, and valine. Meat supplies all nine. That is why it is called a complete protein.

1) Meat contains lots of the B vitamins needed for the production of hormones, red blood cells and for the proper functioning of your nervous system.
2) Say ‘hello’ to niacin, folic acid, thiamine, biotin, panthothenic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6. They are all found in meat.

So let’s counter those negative meat health myths, by setting the record straight.

Cord Blood Banking for Potential Future Transplantation

Despite all the planning and caution, life seems to be unpredictable at one phase or the other! And it’s mostly, when individuals are faced with a health crisis, where the ailment at hand is chronic and irreversible. Humans try to secure the health of their children and loved ones in many ways. One such way that has gained popularity owing to its growing success rate, is cord blood stem cell transplant. Today, it is considered to be a miracle cure for diseases that previously doctors considered as dead-end.

The use of UCB (Umbilical Cord Blood) as a rich source for cord blood stem cells have expanded in the past decade. Today, it is already a successful practice for treating children who are suffering from haematological malignancies. Furthermore, there’s also the use of double UCB and minimized-intensity transplantation platforms that have also played its part in this expansion. In the recent times, the registry-based evaluation and the end-to-end multi-center and single institution clinical trials are researching on ways to make the UCB transplantation more acceptable. The objective is to address the complex ailments such as sickle cell disease and Kostmann’s syndrome and treat it successfully through the transplant without any side effects.

Once a baby is born, the cord blood gets collected from the placenta and the umbilical cord. The collection process is very simple and poses no risk either to the baby or the mother. These cord blood cells comprise of Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which are the rare cells usually spotted in bone marrow as well.

It is said that the Haematopoietic stem cells has the capacity to produce all kinds of cells in blood i.e. white cells, red cells and platelets. They are accountable for retaining blood production all through the life. And they have also been utilized for several years in the bone marrow transplants for treating blood related ailments. In addition to that there also have been numerous reports that suggest that cord blood might also comprise of specific kind of stem cells that can create a distinctive cell that doesn’t belong to blood, for instance nerve cells. Such ideas and theories are debatable and are being researched upon for correct validation.

In the recent times, over 6000 patients globally have been treated with stem cell transplants. The U.S Food and Drug Administration still consider this process experimental and urge that there’s scope for expertise in future. However, the doctors usually procure cord blood from children whose parents have decided to store the cord blood. At the time of transplant if the patient and donor have genetic similarity then the patient’s body will accept the transfusion.

According to Mary Laughlin, Cord Blood Transplantation Expert, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio there’s a constant battle or action to reaction that goes on between the recipient and donor cells, and every patient and doctor wants the donor cells to win invariably. Usually, the stem cell transplants are considered more forgiving that other processes, such as the bone marrow transplants even if the donor isn’t an exact match.

As there is growth in the volunteer stem cell donor bands, the patients who are in need of it are closer to getting the best match and thus the chances of recovery is more. According to the Center for Cord Blood in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which is biggest public cord blood donor bank in United States, the chances of procuring a perfect or near perfect match today has increased exponentially in the last 4 years.

So, from Beta Thalassamia Major, Inherited Red Cell Abnormalities, Pure Red Cell Aplasia, Multiple Myeloma to Plasma Cell Leukaemia cord blood stem cell transplant has successfully treated it all. And its future is a promising one where medical experts are researching on treating other chronic ailments with UCB.