Each year, countless people in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country have their lives forever changed by traumatic brain injuries. Oftentimes, the injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls or other everyday mishaps. Because the brain is by far the most complex part of our bodies, even minor head injuries can have long-term effects.
Luckily, medical researchers are constantly making headway in treating traumatic brain injuries. Recently, researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine announced a new drug that they say can be used to treat traumatic brain injuries as well as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, three debilitating neurological disorders.
The researchers said that the drug’s effectiveness is based on reducing a certain type of inflammation in the brain called neuroinflammation. This type of inflammation has been identified as a cause of common neurological disorders and also an effect of traumatic brain injuries.
Essentially, the drug is said to target a molecule known as cytokine, which plays a major role in the brain’s neuroinflammatory response. When this molecule is decreased, inflammation in the brain also appears to lessen, researchers said. The hardest part of creating the drug, they said, was having it be gentle enough on other molecules in the brain.
While the drug isn’t being described as a cure for traumatic brain injuries or degenerative brain disorders, researchers said it could slow the occurrence of neuroinflammation, which could give the brain enough time to repair itself.
At this point, the drug has proved to be safe on humans, but the lead researcher said that the research is really just beginning. He said his team is waiting for funding from a biotech company so that they can start clinical trials.
Source: Fox News, “New ‘one-size-fits-all’ drug could treat Alzheimer’s, MS and brain injury,” Loren Grush, July 25, 2012