A recent article in the LA Times suggests a new medication may protect the brain after a traumatic injury. A blow to the head or penetration of the skull by an object can result in traumatic brain injury. After the brain sustains an injury, a brain cell protein called an endothelin receptor A (ETrA) reacts to restrict blood flow to the brain. This is mystifying, because post-injury is arguably when the brain needs blood flow the most. When the blood flow is reduced, brain cells are almost always damaged. Death is possible if the injury is severe and the blood flow to the brain slows or stops for a long period of time.
Reversing the Brain’s Response to Injury
Permanent damage can occur within four hours of injury, if the ETrA receptor sends its message. Researchers have create a new medication that they hope will target the endothelin receptors and block their message, so that oxygenated blood will continue to flow through the brain tissue.
A Possible Treatment
The drug under investigation is called clazosentan. In experiments with rats, administering the drug two hours after a traumatic brain injury blocked 25 percent of the receptors’ effects up to four hours post-injury. Another dose of clazosentan given 24 hours after the injury improved the outcome even after 48 hours. The effectiveness of clazosentan was tested by conducting an MRI scan of the rats’ brains to measure blood flow to the hippocampus and sensory motor cortex of the brain, and also by observing rats navigating mazes after the injuries. Rats who received the medication performed the maze task more effectively.
According to the American Academy of Neurology, the findings of the research will be presented April 21 to April 28, 2012 in New Orleans when the Academy holds its 64th Annual Meeting. “There are currently no primary treatments for traumatic brain injury, so this research provides hope that effective treatments can be developed,” said Michael Kaufman, a second year medical student at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and the author of the study. He is a student member of the American Academy of Neurology. Kaufman’s mentor and the principal investigator of this groundbreaking research is Christian Kreipke, MD, also with Wayne State University School of Medicine.
Hope for the Future
Prior to this research, no medication was considered a preferred treatment for traumatic brain injury. Although accidents account for large numbers of traumatic brain injuries, participation in sports can also be to blame. If the administration of a drug in this class limits the devastating outcomes of a traumatic head injury, this is good news for the many future victims of traumatic brain injury, their families and those who will treat them.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of traumatic brain injury as a result of someone else’s negligent behavior, contact our experienced attorneys today. You may be eligible for compensation to assist with further treatment and medical bills. Schedule your free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.