Peptide hydrogels could help heal traumatic brain injuries

phys.org | 8/22/2018 | Staff
echolea (Posted by) Level 3
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Traumatic brain injury (TBI)—defined as a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain function—sent 2.5 million people in the U.S. to the emergency room in 2014, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, researchers report a self-assembling peptide hydrogel that, when injected into the brains of rats with TBI, increased blood vessel regrowth and neuronal survival.

The researchers will present their results at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Fall 2019 National Meeting & Exposition.

Brain - Injuries - Soldiers - Athletes - Biplab

"When we think about traumatic brain injuries, we think of soldiers and athletes," says Biplab Sarkar, Ph.D., who is presenting the work at the meeting. "But most TBIs actually happen when people fall or are involved in motor vehicle accidents. As the average age of the country continues to rise, the number of fall-related accidents in particular will also increase."

TBIs encompass two types of injuries. Primary injury results from the initial mechanical damage to neurons and other cells in the brain, as well as blood vessels. Secondary injuries, which can occur seconds after the TBI and last for years, include oxidative stress, inflammation and disruption of the blood-brain barrier. "The secondary injury creates this neurotoxic environment that can lead to long-term cognitive effects," Sarkar says. For example, TBI survivors can experience impaired motor control and an increased rate of depression, he says. Currently, there is no effective regenerative treatment for TBIs.

Sarkar - Vivek - Kumar - PhD - Project

Sarkar and Vivek Kumar, Ph.D., the project's principal investigator, wanted to develop a therapy that could help treat secondary injuries. "We wanted to be able to regrow new blood vessels in the area to restore oxygen exchange, which is reduced in patients with a TBI," Sarkar says. "Also, we wanted to create an environment where neurons can be supported and even thrive."

The researchers, both at the New Jersey...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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