A new development in hormonal therapy could provide relief to victims of devastating brain injury. The therapy is meant in part to help reduce the swelling that often takes place inside the brain after a serious brain injury.
The hormone, which is currently operating under the title of “ProTECT,” is made using progesterone, which occurs naturally in humans and is associated with pregnancy and menstruation in women. Researchers had been testing the hormone’s efficacy on animals, in which it appeared to have positive effects in treating brain injuries. The testing of the treatment has thus begun using humans, and is taking place at forty different locations around the country on 800 different patients. The possibility of side effects notwithstanding, the drug has been deemed safe for the trials to continue.
The tests could be a welcome development in the treatment of brain injuries. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1,700,000 traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occur every year, contributing to over thirty percent of injury-related deaths in the country annually; the CDC also states that TBIs cost upwards of seventy-six billion dollars in 2000. Research is showing that in addition to reducing the swelling, progesterone can help reduce cell death and assist in the rebuilding of the blood-brain barrier. Researchers hope to enroll over one thousand patients for the full scope of the testing; with any luck, it will prove to be a successful method of treating these terrible injuries and bringing relief to patients who are suffering.