A new study may have found a previously undiscovered treatment to reduce brain damage following brain injuries according to findings published in Critical Care Medicine.
While the primary injury from traumatic brain injuries are dangerous and may have long-term implications, the secondary is often the source of some of the most severe brain damage. The secondary injury develops hours or even days after the initial injury occurs and is largely responsible for disability related to brain injury. There are also no approved drug treatments to prevent this damage from occurring.
Researchers from Imperial College London found that administering xenon gas within hours of the initial brain injury may be able to limit brain damage and improve neurological outcomes in animal tests. The researchers hope to advance the tests to human trials.
After using a controlled mechanical force applied to the brain, mice treated with xenon performed better in tests designed to assess neurological deficits, both in the short term and long term. The mice treated with xenon also exhibited less brain damage, even if treatment was delayed up to three hours after the injury.
Dr. Robert Dickinson from the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London, who led the study, said, “After a blow to the head, most of the damage to the brain doesn’t occur immediately but in the hours and days afterwards. At present we have no specific drugs to limit the spread of the secondary injury, but we think that is the key to successful treatment.
“This study shows that xenon can prevent brain damage and disability in mice, and crucially it’s effective when given up to at least three hours after the injury. It’s feasible that someone who hits their head in an accident could be treated in the hospital or in an ambulance in this time frame.
“These findings provide crucial evidence to support doing clinical trials in humans.”