Experimental Transplantation Surgery on TBI Patients
Experiments have been performed in China on TBI patients in which brain cells were transplanted into the area of the injured brain. All of the patients had “open” head injuries; that is, the skull was fractured and part of the brain was bulging outside of the skull. Brain cells were removed from each patient during surgery to repair the brain and skull. These cells were then placed in a growth medium where they multiplied until there were approximately five million to 15 million cells.
Because our bodies’ immune systems recognize and attack anything that is foreign to the body, organs or cells that are transplanted from another body are in danger of being “rejected” by the person receiving the transplant. When cells from the patient’s own brain are used to grow additional cells, the new cells will be recognized as belonging to the patient when they are transplanted and won’t be rejected by the patient#8217;s immune system.
The cells that are used to grow new cells are known as stem cells. When stem cells reproduce, they can produce more than one kind of cell. For example, a stem cell in the brain can potentially produce both neurons (the nerve cells that relay information in the brain and spinal cord) and other types of brain cells that support and protect neurons. .
The process of growing millions of new brain cells in a laboratory can take one to two months. At that point the patient has a second surgery in which the new cells are surgically placed in the injured area of the brain.