US DoD Funds Stem Cell Research for Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

The US Department of Defense has awarded UTHealth Houston a $4.9 million contract to research if stem cells reduce chronic neuroinflammatory response to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in warfighters.

The study will focus on intravenously infused autologous adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells or HB-adMSCs developed by Hope Biosciences.

The award is a milestone in developing a treatment for an incurable condition diagnosed in 500,000 US military service members since 2000.

Repeatable Stem Cell Therapy for TBI

According to Hope Biosciences, TBI affects around 1.5 million Americans and takes 50,000 lives annually.

The Centers for Disease Control reports 5.3 million people in the US live with permanent TBI-related disability.

Hope and UTHealth conducted a 24-patient study on repeated intravenous administration of HB-adMSCs to develop a treatment.

Initial results were presented in May in Scottsdale, Arizona, and have shown the potential to reduce chronic neuroinflammation.

“Our repeatable stem cell therapy offers scalability, affordability and rapid delivery over one’s lifetime,” Hope Biosciences CEO Donna Chang explained.

“Complex conditions like TBI will require sustained and repeated treatment which Hope Biosciences can deliver, potentially benefiting both military and civilian populations.”

Air Force Senior Airman a service member for a CT scan
Air Force Senior Airman a service member for a CT scan at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan’s Craig Joint Theater Hospital. Photo: Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/US Air Force

‘Strong Step Forward’

The award funds the second phase of the study, scheduled to begin in September. The research is awaiting approval from UTHealth Houston’s Institutional Review Board.

“The funding for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program Phase 2 trial is a strong step forward in the treatment of the chronic after-effects of traumatic brain injury,” UTHealth Houston McGovern Medical School’s Charles Cox Jr. stated.

“It is based upon solid results from the Phase 1 study in terms of safety and treatment signal.” 

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