A study by scientists in the United States and Israel have found the diabetes drug Exendin-4, usually taken by diabetes patients to help control their blood sugar levels, could be used to treat patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI).
With TBI having a potential severe and long-term effect on brain function, as well as impairing mental abilities, memory, behaviour and personality, its treatment can also be very expensive. However, this pre-clinical laboratory study, reported in the journal Experimental Neurology, showed that Exendin-4 could substantially reduce the damage from TBI when given soon after the initial incident, as well as having benefits in protecting neurons in conditions including Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers were examining the effects of injuries from car accidents and then from military explosions, and how TBIs alters the chemistry of the brain. By mapping brain injuries in tests, the team learned more about the damage and the best way to treat it by combining medications to reduce their lasting impact. It is hoped that the research will lead to new combinations of drugs that prevent as much brain damage as possible after an injury.
Researcher Chaim Pick from Tel Aviv University said “We are moving in the right direction. Now we need to find the right dosage and delivery system, then build a cocktail of drugs that will increase the therapeutic value of this concept.”

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