Experimental Drug May Reduce Effect of Traumatic Brain Injury

Novel therapy shows promise for conditions such as post-traumatic epilepsy, neuropsychiatric disorders, and post concussive symptoms.

An experimental drug may soon offer hope to patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). The findings of a recent study may eventually lead to promising treatment options for individuals who suffered head trauma, such as a concussion.

"Following a head injury, the body mobilizes immune cells to respond to the trauma and jump-start the healing process," said researcher Linda Van Eldik. "Although these immune cells help repair the injury, they also cause inflammation that may damage the tissue -- a sort of double-edged sword. Our goal is to find ways to improve the positive effects of the immune system while thwarting the inflammation process that damages tissues.”

A study was conducted in 2007 that tested the effects of the experimental drug called MW151.

The results of that study showed that MW151 inhibited the release of chemicals that caused inflammation, while also preserving the repair capabilities of immune cells in a form of TBI called closed head injury. There was also reduced cognitive impairment.

The current study, which was conducted at the University of Kentucky and published in the PLoS One journal, tested the effects of MW151 in a form of TBI called mFPI.

"We were delighted to see that MW151 is effective in more than one model of TBI," said lead author Adam Bachstetter, PhD. "MW151 appears to dampen down the detrimental inflammatory responses without suppressing the normal functions that the cells need to maintain health."

Van Eldik also added that this treatment showed promise for TBI patients and that the results were significant. She hopes that the drug will be moved into clinical trials in the next few years.

"Traumatic brain injury represents a major unmet medical need, as there is currently no effective therapy to prevent the increased risk of dementia and other neurologic complications, such as post-traumatic epilepsy, neuropsychiatric disorders, and post concussive symptoms such as headaches, sleep disturbances, memory problems, dizziness, and irritability," Van Eldik said. "MW151 represents an important next step in the process to help people with TBI, including soldiers, athletes, car accident victims and others."