A completely new approach to treating traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s) has been developed by a team of researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. The new approach attempts to stop the release of glutamate when the brain in injured. Glutamate normally works in the brain by carrying nerve impulses across synapses (gaps between brain cells). However, when the brain sustains a traumatic injury, the glutamate that is released by the damaged brain cells overexcites surrounding cells and kills them. This results in irreparable brain damage.and the treatment has been proven to work in rats with simulated TBI’s.
The Institute’s newfound method uses an enzyme that can be activated to clear away excess glutamate in the brain. This enzyme is not part of the brain’s normal system of recycling glutamate since injury causes the entire system to malfunction. The brain normally controls levels of glutamate on its own by using transporters to move high concentrations of glutamate out of the brain into the bloodstream. The enzyme, GOT, developed by researchers at Weizmann inactivates glutamate to lower its concentration in the brain.
The method was tested on rats with simulated traumatic brain injuries, and results showed that the enzyme worked and damage was prevented. The Weizmann Institute has had the method patented and is working on US FDA approval. As soon as approval is made, stage I clinical trials will be conducted. The method holds promising results in treating patients with brain injuries due to stroke, meningitis, and dementia.