Brain injuries are still not well understood and can have long-term consequences. A New York car accident might be the cause of a traumatic brain injury, also referred to as a TBI. However, athletes and construction workers can easily suffer a TBI while playing a sport or while working on-the-job.
Even severe TBIs rarely cause a death, but a patient's mental abilities may be impaired, memory and behavior could suffer and dramatic personality changes are often noted. The costs of long-term medical treatment can be extremely expensive.
Researchers have recently found that an FDA-approved diabetes drug called Exendin-4 may be able to minimize damage, if administered promptly after the initial incident. The drug is used in diabetes patients to control sugar levels, but has also been shown effective in protecting neurons in Alzheimer's disease and similar disorders.
Combination of Medications Probably Required
Prof. Chaim Pick of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, one of the main authors of the study commissioned by the U.S. Air Force, has researched TBI for many years. He has looked at common injuries such as hitting the windshield of a car in an auto accident, but his recent research has focused on explosions. A factory explosion, for example, could cause long-term damage because increased pressure followed by a vacuum shakes fluid in the brain and can damage the brain's structure.
In the research on mice, Exendin-4 was found beneficial when given to the mice shortly after an explosion. The drug was also shown to improve the outcome in blunt force TBI injuries. The mice treated with the medicine after injury had almost the same brain function as the uninjured mice in the control group. The drug significantly reduced long-term damage caused by an explosion.
One drug alone will not likely be sufficient, but it is a promising start toward finding a drug cocktail that will minimize the long-term consequences brain injuries
Source: ScienceDaily, "Diabetes Drug Could Be a Promising Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury," May 29, 2012.