New drug may help memory following TBI

Scientists have reversed memory and learning deficits in mice following traumatic brain injuries.

The research, from the University of California, could eventually help combat head trauma-induced chronic cognitive deficits. Reported in The Washington Post and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the study found that suppressing the integrated stress response (ISR) with a new drug, ISRIB, helped mice with TBI. The drug was tested on two different mouse models. One mimicked focal injuries, which occur at a specific spot in the brain when someone has a stroke or is hit by a golf ball, for example. The other model was for concussive injuries like those suffered from a very hard fall or in whiplash during a car accident. There are no currently no effective treatments for patients suffering from the long-lasting symptoms of TBI but the research showed that TBI persistently activates the ISR, a signalling pathway. When treated with ISRIB, some of the cognitive deficits induced by TBI were reversed. The TBI-induced memory deficits were also corrected when ISRIB was given weeks after the initial injury and cognitive improvement was maintained after the treatment ended. The results even showed that ISR inhibition weeks after injury can reverse memory deficits associated with TBI. The Washington Post’s report acknowledged that mouse brains are different from human brains, but that Cesario Borlongan, distinguished professor of neurosurgery at the University of Southern Florida, gave three reasons why ISRIB could be more likely to be effective than previous trials for people. Firstly, as the drug is a small molecule and can cross the blood-brain barrier, it is unlikely it would have to be injected directly into the brain. Secondly, treatment with ISRIB was still effective weeks after injury, giving it an advantage over drugs that were used in mouse models immediately following the trauma. Thirdly, and most importantly, Borlongan said that ISRIB worked in two different types of brain injury.
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