Infrared Light Brain Chemistry Manipulation Monday, Dec 15 2008 

Researchers have found that they can stimulate neurons using infrared light. Infrared light may become useful for a variety of central nervous system disorders in the future. It could be used for brain stem stroke treatment and other brain ailments. Infrared light has a relatively high targeting accuracy. It is able to stimulate very small subpopulations of neurons. This selectively would allow a much more refined treatment of many different things. Infrared brain stimulation may allow for more precise mapping of the brain’s cortex. Infrared light may even be used for deep brain stimulation implants. Currently deep brain stimulation implants use electricity, but infrared light would allow a novel mechanism of shaping the brain.

You can read more about this here.


Proteolytic Biomarkers MAP Brain Damage Detection Sunday, Dec 14 2008 

Banyan Biomarkers is a company that creates products to help diagnose those who are brain injured. They have recently been granted a new US patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent is for proteolytic biomarkers that will be used for the detection of traumatic brain injuries. The patent itself describes a novel method of determining brain injuries. This determination would be done by the use of proteolytic breakdown products of MAP’s. MAP’s are microtubule-associated proteins. These MAP’s will allow better detection of traumatic brain injuries and may increasingly find use in the future. Currently many different types of brain injuries are fairly difficult to detect even with sophisticated brain scanning. Subtle types of brain damage especially to the axons and dendrites of neurons can be difficult to spot. It wouldn’t show up as a gross morphology change on an MRI or CT scan. However these proteolytic proteins have the ability to detect more subtle forms of brain injury. They also may diagnose brain injury faster than other methods. This would allow the administration of treatment at a quicker rate. This could reduce the damaging after effects of a traumatic brain insult.

Cognition Enhancement for Brain Injured Friday, Dec 12 2008 

tmsDeficits in cognitive functioning can occur quite frequently in a variety of neurological diseases. These diseases include neurodegenerative disorders, stroke and even traumatic brain injury. Researchers have now recently been investigating new neurotechnology methods to stimulate areas of the brain. Transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation can both alter the brain non-invasively. Each one has the ability to generate an electric current within the brain. This current is able to excite or inhibit specific brain regions.

The main problem with these treatments is that they are limited in their targeting ability. They can only stimulate brain regions that are close to a person’s skull. So deeper brain regions are currently off limit to these brain stimulation neurotechnologies. Researchers have used brain stimulation techniques to improve the capacity of brain memory.

Techniques for brain stimulation may increasingly find use for brain injury disorders such as anoxic brain injury. They have the potential to alter the brain through neuroplasticity. They could improve functioning for many different people. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, for instance, has been used to help arouse a coma patient. So these are some powerful tools that can do all sorts of useful things.

Brain stimulation of the future will increasingly have more targeting accuracy and will be able to penetrate deeper into the brain. I suspect that eventually scientists will able to target any region of the brain for non-invasive brain stimulation. This would allow the excitation or inhibition of any brain regions. You can read more about the use of brain stimulation for cognitive functioning at the brain stimulation journal. Here’ s the abstract for the paper.

Cognitive deficits are a common consequence of neurologic disease, in particular, of traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neurodegenerative disorders, and there is evidence that specific cognitive training may be effective in cognitive rehabilitation. Several investigations emphasize the fact that interacting with cortical activity, by means of cortical stimulation, can positively affect the short-term cognitive performance and improve the rehabilitation potential of neurologic patients.

Brain Modulation Conference Friday, Dec 5 2008 

The International Neuromodulation Society (INS) has a new conference meeting that will last until December 7th. They will have a variety of scientists who will discuss various neuromodulation techniques that may improve a number of brain disorders. These neuromodulation techniques have the capacity to improve many different types of brain injuries in the future. You can read the press release about this new conference here.

Stroke Rehabilitation. The idea that the adult brain can reorganize to restore normal function after sustaining trauma is well accepted, but the means to achieving such rehabilitation is still a work-in-progress. A recent clinical trial – EVEREST – tested the idea that directly stimulating the brain with electrical signals coupled with classical rehabilitation techniques may speed the recovery of movement. Dr. Robert Levy, a neurosurgeon at Northwestern University in Chicago,will report new analyses of the trial data which suggest that this approach may be successful in some, but not all, stroke victims.

This conference will discuss the new ways of improving conditions associated with brain injury and other brain disorders such as hypoxic brain injury or brain stem injury.   Scientists are increasingly utilizing neuroplastic mechanisms to shape the brain for beneficial effect. They will also talk about new brain imaging methods that will be used to processes for specific brain disorders.

Soldier Helmet Redesign Brain Injury Prevention Sunday, Nov 30 2008 

An astounding 150,000 to 300,000 Iraq war veterans have suffered from a traumatic brain insult or injury. Traumatic brain injury can lead to a variety of problems for the individual that can be difficult to overcome. Scientists need to find better ways to treat and diagnose these brain injuries. However, a big issue is preventing these injuries from occurring at all in the first place. That would be ideal.

Recent research has come from scientists in the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. They have investigated some of the mechanics of how a bomb blast could affect the brain. Currently most armor (helmets etc.) is designed to minimize the force of the impact of stuff that hits the soldier. However some helmet designs have a gap between a soldier’s skull and their helmet. This gap, researchers have found, could actually amplify the pressure that comes from a bomb blast wave. This research may lead to better helmets that could prevent traumatic brain injury in the first place.

The abstract of this new study is named “Skull Flexure from Blast Waves: A New Mechanism for Brain Injury with Implications for Helmet Design”:

Traumatic brain injury [TBI] has become the signature injury of current military conflicts. The debilitating effects of TBI on society are long-lasting and costly. Although the mechanisms by which impacts cause TBI have been well researched, the mechanisms by which blasts cause TBI are not understood. Various mechanisms, including impacts caused by the blast, have been investigated, but blast-induced deformation of the skull has been neglected. Through the use of hydrodynamical numerical simulations, we have discovered that non-lethal blasts can induce sufficient flexure of the skull to generate potentially damaging loads in the brain, even if no impact occurs. This mechanism has implications for the diagnosis of TBI in soldiers and the design of protective equipment such as helmets.

Brain Injury Clinical Trial Concentrated Salt Solution Sunday, Nov 30 2008 

Scientists from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and also the Regional Medical Center at Memphis are going to be teaming up in order to do a national clinical study pertaining to brain injuries. This new clinical trial will actually be sponsored by the National Institute of Health. The researchers will inject a concentrated salt solution into the veins of patients who have sustained a traumatic brain insult. The scientists think that using concentrated salt solutions as opposed to the currently standard saline solutions may be able to less the amount of swelling of a person’s brain. Brain swelling can be very dangerous and any method to reduce this could improve patient outcomes.

Brain Injury Detection Magnetoencephalography Diffusion Tensor Imaging Sunday, Nov 30 2008 

Mild traumatic brain injury impacts the lives of nearly 1.4 million americans each and every year. This is an astoundingly high number. Nearly 20% of soldiers also may suffer from mild traumatic brain injury.

A new article has come out in the USA Today that talks about brain injuries and their detection. It says that mild brain injuries are now easier for doctors to actually detect. Previously some forms of mild damage may have gone unnoticed even with a brain scan. The article talks about research that was presented at the society for Neuroscience annual meeting.

The researchers are now able to combine a variety of advanced brain imaging techniques. These include magnetoencephalography (MEG) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Using these techniques researchers were able to detect some forms of conventional brain injuries that CT or MRI scans had previously missed. These types of scans are more sensitive in detecting very subtle injuries. The USA today story can be found here.

Stem Cells Neurological Psychiatric Report Wednesday, Nov 26 2008 

A new report by NeuroInsights has just been published recently. It talks about using stem cells to treat a variety of neurological and psychiatry brain disorders. In the past, scientists have used stem cells for psychiatric disorders in animals. They were able to generate nerve cells that create dopamine and serotonin and implanted them into the brains of mice.

Other brain disorders may be ameliorated with stem cells. The report details new stem cell therapies for stroke, Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s, SCI, ALS, MS, retina and more. The report can be found at this link.

– Analyzes the scientific approaches and challenges to utilizing stem cells in the CNS
– Discusses trends and drivers including funding and regulatory issues
– Reveals promising treatment indications and pipelines
– Details cell therapies for Parkinson’s, SCI, stroke, Alzheimer’s, ALS, MS, retina and more
– Examines business models leveraging the promise of stem cells
– Sheds light on investment opportunities and risks
– Provides in-depth profiles of trendsetters and trailblazers

Brain Tissue Engineering Stem Cells Thursday, Nov 13 2008 

Recently japanese researchers have used embryonic stem cells to create brain tissue. They have only sythesized a small amount of the brain’s cortex so far. This is the most brain tissue that has ever been sythesized. In the future, this may mean that scientists can create whole brain tissue to replaced damaged brains.

Nanoparticles to Help Brain Injury Friday, Oct 3 2008 

Researchers from Purdue University have recently developed a new method of deliver treatments to brain injuries or spinal cord cells. They have combined silicon nanoparticles with a polymer (polyethylene glycol (PEG) and the antihypertensive drug hydralazine. This new method may be able to preserve both brain and spinal cord function after a person has undergone a traumatic brain injury when it is injected in specific brain area.

Borgens’ group had previously shown benefits of the polymer polyethylene glycol, or PEG, to treat rats with brain injuries and dogs with spinal cord injuries. PEG specifically targets damaged cells and seals the injured area, reducing further damage. It also helps restore cell function, Borgens said.

In the future researchers may increasingly get better at minimizing the damage associated with traumatic brain insults. They may also be able to repair that damage as well using stem cells.

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