SOURCE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
In a new study at the University of Georgia, researchers have demonstrated the long-term benefits of a hydrogel, which they call ‘brain glue,’ for the treatment of traumatic brain injury. The gel protects against loss of brain tissue after a severe injury and might aid in functional neural repair.
The study shows the long-term benefits of a hydrogel, or “brain glue,” for the treatment of traumatic brain injury. The new study provides evidence that not only does the gel protect against loss of brain tissue after a severe injury, but it also might aid in functional neural repair. Brain damage following significant TBI commonly results in extensive tissue loss and long-term disability. There currently are no clinical treatments to prevent the resulting cognitive impairments or tissue loss. As reported in Sciences Advances, the new finding is the first to provide visual and functional evidence of the repair of brain neural circuits involved in the reach-to-grasp movement in brain glue-implanted animals following severe TBI.
“Our work provides a holistic view of what’s going on in the recovery of the damaged region while the animal is accomplishing a specific reach-and-grasp task,” said lead investigator Lohitash Karumbaiah, an associate professor in the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Brain glue was designed to mimic the structure and function of the meshwork of sugars that support brain cells. The gel contains key structures that bind to basic fibroblast growth factors and brain-derived neurotrophic factors, two protective protein factors that can enhance the survival and regrowth of brain cells after severe TBI.
In a prior short-term study, Karumbaiah and his team showed that brain glue significantly protected brain tissue from severe TBI damage. In this new research, to harness the neuroprotective capacity of the original, they further engineered the delivery surface of protective factors to help accelerate the regeneration and functional activity of brain cells. After 10 weeks, the results were apparent.
“Animal subjects that were implanted with the brain glue actually showed repair of severely damaged tissue of the brain,” said Karumbaiah. “The animals also elicited a quicker recovery time compared to subjects without these materials.”
To measure the glue’s effectiveness, the team used a tissue-clearing method to make brain tissue optically transparent, which allowed them to visually capture the immediate response of cells in the reach-to-grasp circuit using a 3D imaging technique.