'Brain Glue' repairs traumatic brain injuries

August 29, 2017

Researchers at the University of Georgia's Regenerative Bioscience Center have developed Brain Glue, a substance that could one day serve as a treatment for traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.

The Brain Glue is a hydrogel matrix with a gelatin-like consistency that acts as a scaffolding for , which are capable of repairing damaged tissue. With the unique ability to take the shape of the void left in the after a severe trauma, the Brain Glue will enable a more natural healing environment for stem cells to colonize and regenerate.

Lohitash Karumbaiah, assistant professor in UGA's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, led the team that designed and created Brain Glue. The main difference between Brain Glue and other synthetic hydrogels, according to the team, is the variety of possibilities to trap neural , improve integration and reduce the likelihood of rejection.

"It's very common with these invasive injuries that surgeons will actually remove the part of the dead brain leaving behind a cavity or hole," said Karumbaiah. "The question is, then, can you replace that with something like our Brain Glue, loaded up with compounds native to the brain together with a mix of protective agents that can be incorporated for the best therapeutic outcome.

"The cool thing about this chemistry is that you can take our Brain Glue liquid formulation and then very briefly expose it to long-wave UV light and form a hydrogel in any shape you like," he said.

Every day, 153 people in the U.S. die from injuries that include TBI, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those who survive a TBI may live with impaired thinking, memory, movement or sensation. TBIs can also lead to personality and emotional changes.

The new approach is described in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering and a recently awarded abstract from the International Brain Injury Association.

For more than two years now, Karumbaiah has been awarded seed-funding for his collaborative TBI work with Maysam Ghovanloo, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The TBI research was initially funded by the Center for Regenerative Engineering & Medicine, known as REM, a collaborative initiative launched in 2011 between the University of Georgia, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The REM collaboration is an extension of Karumbaiah's work to further study neuroplasticity: the brain's ability to self-renew, adapt and compensate for injury and disease. His future studies will focus on how neural networks form and change in response to traumatic insults, and he will investigate the therapeutic use of electrical stimulation to help return loss of function in any given region of the brain.

"Multiple methods are needed in these kinds of studies," said Karumbaiah. "The Brain Glue is where we make the scaffold, and the neuro-network function is really this other arm-learning how neurons fire and wire together and what this really means in terms of function."

Steven Stice, director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center, is working with Karumbaiah on a licensed technology for commercialization of the new Brain Glue, which was recently named best abstract at a meeting of the International Brain Injury Association.

Karumbaiah's work recently attracted a four-year, $1.5 million research grant from the National Institutes of Health.

"Lohitash sets an example for other junior faculty to emulate," said Stice, GRA Eminent Scholar and D.W. Brooks Professor in CAES. "To be recognized internationally at such an early stage takes great skill and dedication."

Explore further: Development of brain-friendly interfaces

More information: Martha I. Betancur et al. Chondroitin Sulfate Glycosaminoglycan Matrices Promote Neural Stem Cell Maintenance and Neuroprotection Post-Traumatic Brain Injury, ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering (2017). DOI: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.6b00805

Related Stories

Development of brain-friendly interfaces

August 6, 2015
Recent research published in the journal Microsystems & Nanoengineering could eventually change the way people living with prosthetics and spinal cord injury lead their lives.

Neural stem cells steered by electric fields in rat brain

July 11, 2017
Electric fields can be used to guide neural stem cells transplanted into the brain towards a specific location. The research, published July 11 in the journal Stem Cell Reports, opens possibilities for effectively guiding ...

Brain injury in kids might lead to alcohol abuse

August 14, 2017
Researchers at Ohio State University have surveyed previous studies to investigate the relationship between traumatic brain injuries and alcohol abuse. They found evidence that traumatic brain injuries in children and adolescents ...

Brain healing after injury given a natural boost

June 19, 2017
We may be able to kick-start healing after a traumatic brain injury by boosting levels of a protein made naturally within the brain, according to new research conducted at the University of Adelaide.

Project to replicate brain's neural networks though 3-D nanoprinting

December 9, 2016
Aston University has launched MESO-BRAIN, a major stem cell research project which it hopes will develop three-dimensional (3D) nanoprinting techniques that can be used to replicate the brain's neural networks.

Recommended for you

Scientists reveal new avenue for drug treatment in neuropathic pain

November 24, 2017
New research from King's College London has revealed a previously undiscovered mechanism of cellular communication, between neurons and immune cells, in neuropathic pain.

Small but distinct differences among species mark evolution of human brain

November 23, 2017
The most dramatic divergence between humans and other primates can be found in the brain, the primary organ that gives our species its identity.

Team constructs whole-brain map of electrical connections key to forming memories

November 22, 2017
A team of neuroscientists at the University of Pennsylvania has constructed the first whole-brain map of electrical connectivity in the brain based on data from nearly 300 neurosurgical patients with electrodes implanted ...

To forget or to remember? Memory depends on subtle brain signals, scientists find

November 22, 2017
The fragrance of hot pumpkin pie can bring back pleasant memories of holidays past, while the scent of an antiseptic hospital room may cause a shudder. The power of odors to activate memories both pleasing and aversive exists ...

Pitch imperfect? How the brain decodes pitch may improve cochlear implants

November 22, 2017
Picture yourself with a friend in a crowded restaurant. The din of other diners, the clattering of dishes, the muffled notes of background music, the voice of your friend, not to mention your own – all compete for your ...

New research suggests high-intensity exercise boosts memory

November 22, 2017
The health advantages of high-intensity exercise are widely known but new research from McMaster University points to another major benefit: better memory.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.