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Cell Therapy to Fight Traumatic Coma
November 10, 2009 18:12

Medics from the Russian city of Novosibirsk developed an effective rehabilitation technique for patients, who suffered from serious head injuries and were in coma.

When a human being receives a head injury as a result of road accident or due to some other reason, his central nervous system often gets damaged and thus leads to coma. Coma quite often results in death or vegetative state of a patient, when his brain switches from sleep to wakefulness, but he doesn’t react to anything. Brain injuries launch a cascade of serious physiological failures in an organism. Current drug therapy is not always satisfactory, since no reliable restoration technique of associative bonds between brain cortex and underlying structures.

Think-tank of Russian medics studied the possibility of emerging from coma by means of cell therapy. Patients received embryonic cells of brain and liver, and 33 out of 35 showed signs of recovery. The test group consisted of patients aged from 18 to 65, who arrived in emergency department in state of deep coma. Brain and liver cells were derived from human embryos after spontaneous or therapeutic abortions.

Tiny tissues pieces were then turned into cell suspensions, which were stored in liquid nitrogen vapours until transplantation. In order to reduce immunological loads and possible rejection of all transplanted cells, patients received cells from three different donors. Liver cells were essential, since they belong to blood-forming lines and promote viability of various cell types, hamper scar formation and reduce immune reactions, aimed at transplant rejection.



Cell suspension was injected into cerebrospinal fluid twice in 10 days. Donor cells were checked for any infection prior to injection. 3-5 days after first injection, 85% patients, who spent 2-6 weeks in coma, opened their eyes and were able to follow walking people with eyes. After 7-12 days they recognized their relatives, did simple things and said first words. In 15-24 days main mental functions were restored. The less time a patient spent in coma, the faster he or she recovered.

Immature neural cells from embryos stimulated brain regeneration. These cells can live in cerebrospinal fluid and produce growth and neurotrophic factors, which promote local regeneration in nerve tissue. Medics examined clinical trials participants for 1.5 years. Eighteen out of thirty eight fully recovered and were able to return to previous occupation. Fifteen patients were unable to get rid of some neurologic or mental dysfunctions, thus weren’t able to return to their jobs, but they didn’t need help in everyday life.

Unfortunately, five patients didn’t recover – two died and three became physically challenged. However, researchers claim that cell therapy of coma was quite successful compared to the control group of 38 patients with same diagnosis, in which no one fully recovered, and half never left their bed. Authors emphasize the fact that cell therapy reduces unfavourable outcomes four times and provides early and stable recovery with no complications detected. However, medics believe that more clinical trials are necessary.

Source: Science & Technologies

Kizilova Anna

Tags: health     

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