TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Researchers from the National Health Research Institute (NHRI) say that approximately 650,000 traumatic brain injuries occur in Taiwan due to traffic accidents, falls, and violent incidents each year, with 100,000 cases classified as moderate to severe.
Traumatic brain injury can lead to compromised cognitive and motor function. Taiwanese scientists are analyzing existing drugs to see if they can help with brain damage and stimulate nerve regeneration after an injury, per SETN.
A research team from the NHRI's Institute of Cellular and System Medicine Researcher Yet Shaw-fang (林秀芳) found significant results using an older cholesterol-lowering drug, probucol, which can reduce brain necrosis by 33% in mice when the drug is used after brain trauma.
Traditional treatment of brain trauma patients has yielded limited results according to NHRI researchers. Furthermore, people suffering brain injuries face four times the risk of developing dementia than the general population, the NHRI said.
Currently, there are no drugs available to patients to promote recovery from brain trauma. The research team from NHRI set out to find clinical drugs that could promote nerve regeneration. It found probucol has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that have therapeutic potential in mice.
NHRI also found the drug promoted the growth of new nerve cells, and neural precursor cells also doubled in mice when administered after brain trauma. Previous research has also shown probucol can improve brain neuroplasticity and neurological function.
NHRI’s research results have recently been published in the "British Journal of Pharmacology" and is expected to spur further research into future applications and usage of the drug.