Traumatic brain injuries are considered to be incredibly difficult to treat for neurological doctors. Recent discovery shows that a drug, known as metformin, which is used to control Type 2 diabetes triggers stem cells into producing new brain cells, bringing hope of a new potential treatment for brain injuries.
Researcher at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children performed a study showing the drug metformin helps activate the mechanism that signals stem cells to generate new neurons and other brain cells.
The researchers used lab-dish experiments that used both mouse and human brain stem cells. Mice were given learning and memory tests after being given metformin.
Initially, researchers added metformin to stem cells harvested from the brains of mice. When that proved successful, they repeated the experiment with human brain stem cells that were generated in the lab. Both cases resulted in the mice and human stem cells creating new brain cells.
The drug was then tested in lab mice, with the result being that the mice receiving daily doses of metformin for two to three weeks had increased brain cell growth. In addition, the mice outperformed other mice that did not receive the drug in memory and learning tasks.
The researchers say that metformin extensive safety record means that it is an ideal drug to use in tests and trials for regrowth of brain cells. The drug may be especially beneficial to pediatric TBI patients. A pilot study is awaiting approval, and may begin within the next year at the soonest.
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