Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC, have discovered a new device to prevent cell death can reduce the size and extent of damaged tissue and help treat traumatic brain injury. The research about mechanical tissue resuscitation (MTR) was published in a recent issue of Neurology. 

MTR is designed to use negative pressure to create a negative environment that fosters cell survival. Louis C. Argenta, MD, and Michael Morykwas, PhD, both professors in the department of plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery at Wake Forest, led the multidisciplinary team in the removal of fluid and other toxins that cause cell death from an injury site deep in the brain using MTR. 

The study reportedly targeted brain cells injured by blunt force or other trauma to determine if removing the fluids and toxic substances that lead to cell death could help improve survival of the damaged cells. To do this, the researchers placed a bioengineered material matrix directly on the injured area in the brain and attached it to a flexible tube connected to a microcomputer vacuum pump. The pump then delivered a carefully controlled vacuum to the injured brain for 72 hours, drawing fluid from the injury site.

According to the results, the brain injuries treated with the device showed a significant decrease in brain swelling and release of toxic substances when compared to untreated injuries. In addition, the researchers found that more than 50% more brain tissue cold be preserved in brains treated with the device than in non-treated animals. Behavioral function tests also demonstrated that function was returned at a faster rate in the MTR-treated group. 

Based on their findings, the researchers have begun studying the same technology in stroke and brain hemorrhage models. Co-author Stephen B. Tatter, MD, professor of neurosurgery at Wake Forest says the research is expected to be ready for a clinical trial soon.

Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center