Studies on rats have shown that a protein called vaccinia virus complement control protein (VCP) can be used to greatly improve spatial learning and memory immediately after severe traumatic brain injury. VCP is an immunomodulator which works to prevent cell death and inflammation. Previous laboratory studies have shown its application to be effective after mild or moderate brain injury but recent research by scientists at the University of Cape Town has demonstrated its efficacy after severe trauma as well.
The procedure involved testing the spatial memory of rats which had been subjected to severe brain trauma. The test used is known as the Morris water maze and assesses the rat's ability to remember the position of an escape platform in a water pool. The test subjects were injected with ten microlitres of VCP into the injury site immediately after trauma and tested with the water maze and a battery of sensorimotor tests 14 days later. The subjects treated with the VCP were shown to perform significantly better than the control group with the possibility the improvement was down to chance alone being less than 1%.
Reference: Pillay, N.S, et al(2007), Vaccinia virus complement control protein significantly improves sensorimotor function recovery after severe head trauma, Journal of Brain Research, 1153, 11 June 2007, pp. 158-165Back