Much ado is being made about new medical research advances which may offer hope that a drug could be used to stem the damage caused following a traumatic brain injury. The talk has been spurred by a new experimental drug which was profiled on Monday by the L.A. Times. Each Chicago brain injury attorney at our firm has been following the developments of this line of research to better understand how it might apply to future Illinois brain injury victims in our area.
As blog readers know, much of the damage faced by brain injury victims occurs in the hours and days after the injury is actually sustained. During this time there is a slowing of blood and oxygen flow into the brain. This creates many problems, because the blood and oxygen is needed most during this time to help the healing process. As a result, the brain often suffers permanent damage that can affect the victim in a variety of ways. If something could be done to spur blood and oxygen flow into the brain then much of the subsequent damage to the brain after the injury-the “brain tsunami”-might be avoided.
That is where the drug research comes in.
As we explained in recent weeks, a drug known as clazosentan may be one of the keys. The latest findings related to the drug will be published at the yearly meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in April. However, we know that when administered within two hours of a brain injury in rats that had experienced head trauma, the drug allowed the injured to maintain blood flow to the brain. More specifically, the drug seemed to restore blow flow to the part of the brain responsible for memory-the hippocampus. In rats, this meant that they were better able to run a maze after the injury with the drug than after the injury without the drug.
The drug seems to work by blocking the brain receptors which act to restrict blood flow. However, the timing of the administration of the drug appears to be crucial. When given more than twelve hours after the injury, there seemed to be little benefit. There was modest benefit when given only once, within two hours of the injury. Conversely, the largest benefit was seen with double administrations-one within two hours of the injury and a second dose twenty four hours later.
Clazosentan has been used before to help brain injury victims, but in a different context. Even then the effect was only modest. In the past, the drug was used to reduce brain damage caused by aneurismal subarachnoid hemorrhage. This is essentially bleeding on the brain caused by a ruptured artery or vein. The overall benefits to these stroke victims from the drug were modest. The drug did work to limit the risk of a complication called post-stroke vasospam. However, the drug’s use did not actually lower the likelihood of death or disability following the stroke. However, the benefit of the drug may prove more useful for traumatic brain injury victims (as opposed to stroke victims) if the results of this latest research prove robust.
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