Curbing the life-long effects of traumatic brain injury
News Aug 17, 2016
A fall down the stairs, a car crash, a sports injury or an explosive blast can all cause traumatic brain injury (TBI). Patients often recover. But in the days or weeks following the hit, they can develop other serious, chronic conditions, such as depression and thinking and memory problems.
Now scientists report in the journal ACS Nano a potential way to reduce these effects with a neuron-targeting nanoparticle, using an animal model of TBI.
When someone suffers from a head injury, the damage doesn't necessarily stop after the initial blow. The jolt can cause a cascade of after-effects—such as inflammation and ultimately the death of brain cells—and lead to physical and cognitive conditions that can continue for years. One promising approach to treating these after-effects involves delivering short stretches of RNA that can help shut down this chain reaction. But getting the RNA to the damaged part of the brain is a challenge because of the blood-brain barrier, which separates circulating blood from the fluid around brain cells. Sangeeta Bhatia and her colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Institute for Medical Engineering & Science wanted to see if they could rush therapeutic RNA to targeted brain cells soon after an injury while the blood-brain barrier is weakened.
The team, led by postdoctoral researcher Ester Kwon, engineered nanoparticles to target neurons by borrowing a protein from the rabies virus. They also loaded the particles with a strip of RNA designed to inhibit the production of a protein associated with neuronal cell death. When given to mice intravenously within a day of receiving a brain injury, the nanoparticles left the circulation and accumulated in the damaged tissue. Analysis also showed that the levels of the protein that the researchers were trying to reduce dropped by about 80 percent in the injured brain tissue.
Note: Material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.
Kwon EJ et al. Neuron-Targeted Nanoparticle for siRNA Delivery to Traumatic Brain Injuries. ACS Nano, Published Online July 18 2016. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.6b03858
A recent retrospective study evaluating continuous electroencephalography (cEEG) of children in intensive care units (ICUs) found a higher than anticipated number of seizures. The work also identified several conditions closely associated with the seizures, and suggests that cEEG monitoring may be a valuable tool for helping to identify and treat neurological problems in patients who are 14 months old or younger.
Pain is a negative feeling that we want to get rid of as soon as possible. In order to protect our bodies, we react for example by withdrawing the hand. This action is usually understood as the consequence of the perception of pain. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now shown that perception, the impulse to act and provision of energy to do so take place in the brain simultaneously and not, as was expected, one after the other.