Imagine a pill or injection that doctors could give to people right after they suffered a head injury in a car accident, in battle or on the sports field that would protect them from long-term effects. This wonderful idea is years away from becoming a reality, but a new study from Harvard suggests that scientists are a step closer.
The study, which is based on studying mice, suggests that the brain protein tau becomes misshapen after head trauma. The deformed tau proteins cause other tau proteins to change their shape, leading eventually to brain cell death.
However, the researchers say, an antibody they developed halts the process by returning damaged tau proteins to their original shape. If a similar antibody could replicate this result in human brains, it could reduce or eliminate many of the effects of traumatic brain injury, as well as halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in its early stages.
This would indeed be a major breakthrough, but don’t hold your breath waiting for it. The stud’s senior author predicts that human trials will not begin for two to three years, according to USA TODAY.
Until then, doubts will remain whether what works in mice can also work in humans. One neurologist called it a “leap of faith” at this point.
Indeed, scientists around the world are looking for ways to prevent TBI or treat brain injury when it does occur. But science must move slowly, to avoid mistakes and better understand how the brain works. So for now, TBI victims must do their best to recover from their symptoms.