Friday, July 20, 2012
New treatments to lessen the severity of the more than 21,000 Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) cases that occur in Australia each year are on the horizon. Published today in the leading neurology journal, Brain, a study led by researchers from Monash University's Australian Centre for Blood Diseases (ACBD) revealed how inhibiting certain enzymes decreased the severity of TBI, providing a target for future treatments. Caused by a blow to the head, often suffered during falls or road crashes, severe TBI can result in long-term disability or death. Effects can include impairments to cognitive and motor function, vision, hearing and emotional regulation. Additionally, the post-injury disruption to blood flow, oxygen supply and nerve function around the brain has been linked to debilitating diseases including Alzheimer's disease and post-traumatic epilepsy. The study was led by Professor Robert Medcalf and Dr Maithili Sashindranath of the ACBD, who collaborated for five years with scientists at the University of Geneva in Switzerland and the University of Michigan in the United States. Professor Medcalf said the researchers identified two enzymes, known as t-PA and MMP-3, that act together to promote injury severity following TBI. "The enzyme t-PA, well known for its ability to remove blood clots, also has a healthy and very important role in supporting learning and memory functions in everyday life. However, previous research has shown that in TBI cases, its presence makes the injury much worse," Professor Medcalf said.