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Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are often sudden and change and end lives without warning. Almost two million people each year have a traumatic brain injury. Around the world, it is a leading cause of death. Now, new research is indicating that a hormone that the body produces can be used in some cases to treat TBI.

For instance, a man named Lester Talley in Texas blacked out behind the wheel earlier this year and his car slammed into the rear of a tractor trailer. He blacked out due to an unknown health issue, and he suffered a TBI in the accident.

The accident caused his brain to swell dangerously, and without any treatment, he could suffer severe brain damage and possibly death.

According to Daniel Laskowitz, MD, MHS, Professor Medicine (Neurology), Neurobiology, & Anesthesiology, and Director, Neurovascular Laboratories at Duke University Medical Center, there are few options for treating such an acute brain injury.

In Talley’s case, his wife enrolled him in a Phase III clinical trial called SyNAPSe. This study tests to see if progesterone can help to treat TBI and reduce brain swelling. It is a natural hormone in men and women, and is most often associated with pregnancy.

Laskowitz noted that the hormone has a good chance of cutting down on various types of inflammation. The hormone must be administered within eight hours of the injury. It is infused into the brain for five straight days. Research indicates that this administration of progesterone can reduce swelling of the brain, reduce cell death and to rebuild the blood/brain barrier.

The trial is blinded, so the man does not know if he got the drug or a placebo. But after six months, his progress is strong. He has some problems with memory and with moving his left side. But his long term memory is intact and he is able to live on his own.

The SyNAPSe trial is being conducted at 150 clinical trial sites in 21 countries. The goal is to enroll 1000 TBI sufferers.

Shapiro, Lewis, Appleton & Favaloro, P.C., is a Virginia law firm that provides monthly commentary on traumatic brain injury law.

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