Therapy Expands Blood Vessels, Heals Damaged Brain Cells with Oxygen
A small Bethesda, Maryland-area medical company may have developed a treatment for brain injury, stroke, or concussion patients who still experience speech, cognition, muscle, and memory problems after traditional treatments and rehabilitation.
This start up, Relox Medical, has developed an infusion therapy which is designed to deliver the maximum amount of oxygen possible to the brain. Local Bethesda news source, WUSA9, explains this treatment delivers a solution of magnesium chloride to patients through an IV in order to introduce the medication into the blood stream.
Once in the body, this solution causes the blood vessels in patients to expand, allowing more oxygen to reach the brain. While this vessel expansion occurs, patients simultaneously inhale extra oxygen through a mask.
Dr. Bert Spilker, a Relox Medical scientist, explains that stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI) causes brain cells to die. Although these dead cells can never be brought back to life, injured cells around them can be rejuvenated, which is what this therapy aims to do.
The news source explains that this extra oxygen produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which repairs injured brain cells. With the enlarged blood vessels, the ATP can pass through and make its way to those injured cells.
Relox Medical has tested their therapy in clinical trials with over 80 patients. However, before they launch a phase 3 study, the news source explains that the small company is looking for another pharmaceutical company to partner with.
In April, we reported on a similar therapy that places TBI patients in an oxygen tank to submerge them in 100 percent oxygen under high pressure. According to a First Coast News report, researchers believe this therapy may help the neurons and small blood vessels heal.
Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired Army brigadier general who recommends this treatment, says that patients undergo 40 sessions of this one-hour treatment. Known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO2), Xenakis claims patients start to see improvements in their mood, headaches, alertness, and focus about halfway through.
Xenakis says that the therapy is particularly useful for returning soldiers who have sustained IED blast injuries. These patients often come home with attention and memory problems and struggle to feel normal.
One study into this treatment has already been completed, while another is in the recruitment phase. Although it costs about $250 per treatment and insurance does not cover it, the article explains veterans are being worked with for free.
Both this HBO2 therapy and Relox Medical’s treatment are promising advances for patients who may have believed they could never recover the quality of life they lost. We will continue to report any updates in the approval process for these treatments.