CHICAGO, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Injecting nanoparticles into the bloodstream within two hours after a traumatic brain injury can significantly reduce brain swelling and damage which may lead to death, according to a preclinical study by Northwestern Medicine scientists.
In the study, mice that received the nanoparticles after a traumatic brain injury had greatly reduced swelling and half the damage to brain tissue compared to those who did not receive the nanoparticles. One of the injury models mimicked a closed head traumatic brain injury common in humans. In the model, the animals' motor and visual function improved after the nanoparticle injection.
"We predicted there would be an effect, but the effect turned out to be quite startling. It is remarkable how well the animals do," said the study's lead author Sripadh Sharma, a Feinberg MD-PhD student.
The nanoparticles work as a decoy to distract the immune cells from charging into the brain and causing more damage. The particles, named IMPS for immune modifying nanoparticles, are merely empty shells and do not contain any drugs or cargo.
When the researchers inject the nanoparticles into the bloodstream shortly after the injury, the monocytes are tricked into thinking the nanoparticles are invading foreign materials. They engulf the particles and usher them to the spleen for disposal. The distracted monocytes are no longer around to enter the brain and cause problems.
The nanoparticles, made of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved material table at room temperature and could easily be loaded into a syringe and given immediately after traumatic brain injury in the field by emergency medical technicians or in the emergency room to prevent secondary damage.
The microparticles were also used to treat multiple sclerosis by introducing myelin to the immune system to reduce its reactivity to it.
Northwestern Medicine is the collaboration between Northwestern Memorial Healthcare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, which includes research, teaching and patient care.
The study was published Wednesday in Annals of Neurology.