Can A Set of Compounds Prevent Blast-Related Brain Damage?

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New research published in the journal Cell Reports claims a new class of compound can protect brain cells from damage caused by blast-related traumatic brain injury.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa, treated mice with compounds from with the same class 24-36 hours after inducing TBI from a blast. According to the report, the treated mice were protected from multiple harmful effects of TBI including issues with learning, memory, and movement.

Current estimates say 10 to 20 percent of the 2 million U.S. soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan experience TBI, which is associated with numerous neurological issues such as a decline in cognitive and motor functioning and associations with symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

“The lack of neuroprotective treatments for traumatic brain injury is a serious problem in our society,” says Andrew Pieper, senior study author and associate professor of psychiatry, neurology, and radiation oncology at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. “Everyone involved in this work is motivated to find a way to offer hope for patients, which today include both military personnel and civilians, by establishing a basis for a new treatment to combat the deleterious neuropsychiatric outcomes after blast injury.”

The new study shows that a group of compounds, known as the P7C3 series, is able to block axon damage and preserve normal brain functioning in the time following a traumatic brain injury. In their testing, the researchers saw that the compounds prevented TBI-associated balance and coordination problems, as well as memory and learning impairment.

If the compounds are confirmed to be viable in the treatment of blast-related TBI, it could be a game changer for countless veterans who have been injured from IEDs and other explosives.

“Our ultimate goal is to facilitate development of a new class of neuroprotective drugs with wide applicability to treating patients with TBI and other currently untreatable forms of neurodegeneration,” said Pieper.

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