The material is designed to replicate the meshwork of sugars that support brain cells, by incorporating key structures that bind to basic fibroblast growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, protective proteins that boost survival and regrowth of brain cells after injury.
Previously, Karumbaiah and his colleagues had shown that this hydrogel could be injected into rats with traumatic brain injury to protect them against the tissue loss that would normally result, with observations four weeks later showing a significantly enhanced retention of neural stem cells.
The team has since made refinements to the hydrogel by re-engineering the surfaces of the protective proteins to promote regeneration of brain cells and restoration of their function. The improved hydrogel was again implanted into rats with severe traumatic brain injury, who after 20 weeks exhibited enhanced cell repair and improvement of motor function.
This was observed through 3D imaging technique known as tissue-clearing, to show the rodent's brains during "reach-to-grasp" movements. This showed that the brain glue not only protected against tissue loss, but actively regenerated functional neurons at the site of the injury.
According to New Atlas