Each year, millions of individuals around the world suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which can have far-reaching consequences on their lives. The symptoms of TBIs, including headaches, memory loss, concentration difficulties, mood changes, and sleep disturbances, can significantly impact a person's quality of life, work performance, and relationships with loved ones. Addressing these challenges requires a deep understanding of the mechanisms behind TBI and the development of effective treatments.
Dr. James A. Bibb, chair of the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix Department of Translational Neurosciences, recognizes the limited treatment options available for TBI and the need for further research. Most current treatments primarily focus on managing symptoms rather than targeting the underlying injury. According to Dr. Bibb, this is largely due to a lack of understanding of TBI mechanisms and their effects on the brain.
Dr. Bibb's lab recently achieved a breakthrough in TBI research. In a study published in Scientific Reports, Dr. Bibb and his colleagues developed a novel model of rotational acceleration-induced TBI. By utilizing complex mechanical engineering and high-speed telemetry, they were able to engineer and characterize this innovative model, shedding light on the neuropathological consequences of TBI.
The study involved translational in vivo imaging of resident immune cells, which revealed widespread neuroinflammation following rotational head trauma. Additionally, in collaboration with Cell Signaling Technology, the researchers employed proteomic strategies and identified Cyclin Dependent Kinase 5 (Cdk5) as a key player in TBI-induced memory impairments. They further demonstrated neuroprotection from these impairments and other neuropathological changes using a novel Cdk5 inhibitor discovered by Dr. Bibb's lab. These findings represent crucial progress in modeling clinically relevant forms of TBI, identifying biochemical alterations in the brain, and developing potential neuroprotective therapeutics.
Dr. Bibb emphasizes the chronic effects of TBI, including an increased risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease and Parkinson's Disease. Repetitive TBIs can also lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition frequently observed in professional football players and other contact sport athletes.
The multi-institutional study involved collaboration from various institutions, including the University of Texas at Dallas Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, the University of Texas Southwestern, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Cell Signaling Technology, and the UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix Department of Translational Neurosciences.
By pushing the boundaries of TBI research and uncovering new insights, Dr. Bibb and his team are paving the way for improved understanding, treatment, and ultimately, better outcomes for individuals affected by traumatic brain injuries.
Reference: [email protected]. “Car Accidents and Brain Injury Statistics: 2020.” TreatNOW, 1 Oct. 2020, treatnow.org/knowledgebase/car-accidents-and-brain-injury-statistics-2020/.
Reference: “Research Effectively Models Rotational TBI, Discovering Potential Neuroprotective Therapies.” Phoenix, 22 May 2023, phoenixmed.arizona.edu/newsroom/news/research-effectively-models-rotational-tbi-discovering-potential-neuroprotective.