A team at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Graduate School of Public Health and Department of Chemistry published a report this week about a recent breakthrough in treating traumatic brain injuries. According to the study, published in Nature Neuroscience, the team has developed an agent known as XJB-5-131 that has proven successful in preventing secondary damage in the injured brains of rats.
In describing the team’s findings, the study’s senior author, Dr. Hülya Bayιr, M.D., stated that secondary brain damage can be the most harmful aspect of a head injury, as inflammation and tissue scarring can lead to irreparable trauma, according to Health News Digest.
“We don’t yet have a specific therapy for TBI, but can provide only supportive care to try to ease symptoms,” Dr. Bayιr said. “Our study drug shows promise as a neuroprotective agent that might help address this important public health problem.”
“The primary head injury might not be that serious,” Dr. Bayιr noted. “But that initial injury can set into motion secondary cellular and molecular events that cause more damage to the brain and that ultimately determine the outcome for the patient.”
The study showed that XJB-5-131 had the ability to prevent the oxidation of a phospholipid known as cardiolipin. Basically, in a healthy brain, only a small percentage of the cardiolipin are affected by oxygen. However, after a traumatic brain injury, the cardiolipin are exceedingly oxidized, which causes the brain to experience significant trauma in the period after the initial injury.
In the rats that received the XJB-5-131 injections, the doctors observed significant improvement in balance, coordination, and recognition in the weeks following the administration of agent. The team, directed by lead doctor Jing Ji (PhD; Critical Care Medicine and Environmental and Occupational Health, the Center for Free Radical and Anti-oxidant Health, and the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research), believes that with additional work, XJB-5-131 could eventually lead to progress in not only the treatment of TBI, but also other brain diseases like Parkinson’s and strokes.