Hemoglobin Solution Could Limit Brain Injury

Studies with pigs suggest it stems secondary damage

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WEDNESDAY, April 26, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Resuscitation with a special hemoglobin oxygen-carrying solution may cut risks for secondary brain injury in patients with traumatic brain injury and hemorrhage, new research shows.

The solution, called HBOC-201, is a type of balanced salt solution that contains chemically stabilized bovine (cow) or human hemoglobin meant to increase oxygen delivery to tissues. These solutions are compatible with all human blood types, the researchers said.

HBOC-201 carries as much oxygen on a gram-per-gram basis as hemoglobin in human red blood cells and is stable at room temperature for up to three years.

In this study, researchers inflicted brain impact injury and hemorrhage on 20 pigs that were then randomly selected to be resuscitated with either HBOC-201 (6 mL/kg) or lactated Ringer's (LR) solution (12 mL/kg), one of the crystalloid solutions typically used to resuscitate patients with hemorrhage. Crystalloid solutions don't contain hemoglobin, limiting their ability to carry oxygen to tissues.

Following resuscitation, the pigs were observed for a few hours. They were then killed and their brains removed for analysis.

While HBOC-201 did not improve primary brain damage following impact injury and hemorrhage, it did seem to reduce the amount of secondary brain damage on the side opposite the impact.

"If resuscitation with HBOC-201 can decrease secondary brain injury in TBI patients with hemorrhage, it holds promise for improving outcome," researcher Dr. Guy Rosenthal said in a prepared statement. HBOC "may potentially be of greatest benefit in rural settings and combat situations where banked blood is not available and transport times are long," he said.

The study was presented at this week's annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in San Francisco.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about traumatic brain injury.

SOURCE: American Association of Neurological Surgeons, news release, April 24, 2006

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