Statistics have recently shown that traumatic brain injuries will be the world’s third leading cause of death and disability by 2020, which is why efforts to find new treatments en route to an eventual cure have been ramped up in recent years. Fortunately, with advancements in modern science and technology, scientists and medical researchers have been able to learn more about TBI in recent years than ever before, and new treatments and breakthroughs are occurring at seemingly spectacular rates.
Such a breakthrough was recently achieved by a team of researchers the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, as members of the Department of Bioengineering have identified a drug that may be able to encourage injury reversal in TBI patients. Specifically, by focusing on how the astrocyte cells in the brain and spine signal each other, this team of researchers was able to identify how cells communicate after brain injuries occur.
With nearly 10 million people affected by TBI each year, the team from Penn, as well as partners from Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, Columbia University, Rutgers University and Tufts University, examined drugs that have been previously used in research trials and TBI treatment to find any that were capable of improving cognitive recovery, according to Medical Xpress.
The study’s leader, Dr. David F. Meaney, believes that the results are very promising for slowing and even reducing those discouraging statistics of the spread of TBI.
“We were initially very surprised that the effect of astrocyte signaling on neuronal communication was so profound after injury,” Meaney said. “We are very excited at the promise of this new direction for treating traumatic injury, because it may represent a different angle of attack for treating a complicated disease.”
As with any study regarding the use of drugs in treating serious diseases and injuries, work will continue to determine if there is a future for this team’s discovery.