Finding a Cure: Researchers in Midst of Developing Potential “Concussion Pills”
According to Dr. William Korinek, CEO of Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals, a so-called “concussion pill” is targeted for a 2025 release into the world. This pill would, in theory, allow for one’s brain to self-heal and repair long-term brain damage, such as damage sustained through football concussions. While Dr. Kun Ping Lu predicts a release date closer to 2027, the fact that it is on the way at all can provide a light on the horizon for those struggling to find any release from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Currently, the research on this new medicine is still in the “mouse model” phase, but the testers have already made drastic strides toward success. For example, Dr. Korinek began treating mice within a half-hour of suffering a concussion and found that they did not develop the same anti-social symptoms later in life that untreated mice began exemplifying. Meanwhile, Dr. Lu and researchers at Harvard created a slightly different treatment which stopped concussed mice from running carelessly beneath the potential path of a potential predator.
Notably, neither of these findings simply masked the symptoms – they actually helped the brains self-heal. In the near future, Dr. Korinek plans to expand his experiments to larger mammals, while Dr. Lu expects to synthesize a human version of his protein that is suitable for human pilot studies.
At the same time, last October, the University of Miami was provided with a $16 million grant to research whether cannabidiol (CBD) mixed with an anesthetic can be used as an effective treatment for concussions. This study is only expected to last five years, and the testing is still in the “mouse model” phase just like Dr. Korinek’s and Dr. Lu’s studies.
In the more immediate future, the Miami researchers have had success in creating virtual reality goggles that monitor eye movement to diagnose the severity of a potential concussion and provide feedback during treatment and recovery. While this is insufficient to actually cure brain trauma, this new tool has a 95 percent diagnostic rate and, as mentioned by Miami researcher Dr. Michael Hoffer, “[t]he pill can’t be effective for concussions if you can’t diagnose one.”
While it may be unlikely for all of these different “concussion pills” to result in breakthroughs, CTE sufferers can take some solace in the fact that several researchers are making progress on many different potential cures – this can only increase the chance of success in the not-so distant future.