Scientists at the UC Davis Medical Center received an $8 million grant from the Department of Defense Medical Research Program to conduct a 5 year study of the effects of the drug Allopregnanolone on the brains of human subjects. The drug has been formerly proven effective at improving outcomes in animal trials. Scientists and doctors are hopeful that the previous study results will hold true in human brains.
Michael Rogawski, professor in the Department of Neurology at UC Davis, said in a EurekAlert release that he believes that Allopregnanolone, ‘can provide patients with improved survival and cognition and better overall neurological outcomes. We also will be looking to see if it prevents the development of post-traumatic epilepsy.’ He added that post traumatic epilepsy occurs in 10-15 % of adults who survive brain injuries and upwards of 50% in military head trauma cases.
Allopregnanolone is a steroid produced from the female hormone progesterone. The drug is being considered for use instead of progesterone due to its lack of side effects and potential to be a more effective and reliable treatment option. Rogawski and the Department of Defense both hope the drug proves useful in treating and alleviating long-term effects oftraumatic brain injuries in humans.
The EurekAlert article continued, ‘Researchers hope to enroll 136 male and female patients to determine whether receiving the drug minimizes brain damage, reduces or eliminates post-traumatic epileptic seizures, and improves patients’ psychological functioning and overall quality of life.’ The supply of Allopregnanolone will be manufactured at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures’ Good Manufacturing Practices Facility.
As U.S. troops continue returning home with an increasing incidence of traumatic brain injury, the Pentagon and Department of Defense are scrambling to find ways to assist and heal not only the afflicted combat troops, but also the more than 5 million Americans suffering from various symptoms of traumatic brain injuries.
Brown, Phyllis. (January 15, 2010) ‘UC Davis to study drug therapy to minimize death and disability from traumatic brain injury.’ Retrieved on January 17, 2010 from the EurekAlert website: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-01/uoc–udt011510.php