This 17 Year Old Might Have Just Made a Major Breakthrough in Brain Injury Surgery

Seventeen-year-old Indrani Das may have just transformed the future of brain surgery.

Das, a senior at the Academy for Medical Science Technology in Hackensack, N.J., figured out how to keep neurons alive after injury.

"My work centers on repairing the behavior of supporting cells to prevent neuron injury and death," Das told The Washington Post. "It was really that shock of what it can do to a person that pushed me to work."

Winning the top prize from the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which includes $250,000, she found that she could force neuron supporting cells to provide better environments for neurons to grow.

Usually, a brain injury causes brain cells to go berserk and astrocytes, which are the neuron’s supporting cells, reduce their uptake of glutamate, which is a neurotransmitter toxic to neurons.

When the astrocytes reduce their uptake of glutamate, the excess glutamate is deadly for neurons.

"My treatment is mimicking healthy neuron-to-astrocyte signaling to push these astrocytes to maintain a better chemical environment. I'm using one specific microRNA inside this exosome and that's kind of my whole treatment package," Das said.

Das undid the process where the astrocytes go berserk with microRNA, which help the astrocytes uptake more glutamate.

"Neurons are surviving, this is pretty decent," Das said.

She tested the treatment on mouse neurons in a petri dish and was excited when it worked.

"When I found that protein moving away from the cell membrane, that was a pretty good day," Das said.

Her treatment has yet to be testing on a human brain injury but her treatment could be a breakthrough in the science world.

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