Improvements to Traumatic Brain Injury Outcomes with Painkilling Peptide

In a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, scientists from Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered that a new peptide decreases acute and chronic pain related to traumatic brain injury as well as prevents associated cell death. According to researchers, short-circuiting of a chronic pain pathway without loss of other critical nerve functions can be achieved by the CDB3 peptide.

Although researchers previously believed that brain-cell death is initiated by CDB3 due to its interaction with another protein, this is not what seems to be happening.

Rajesh Khanna, Ph.D. said: “At least 50 years of research has shown that the NMDA receptor, a protein with well-established links to cell death, gets turned on with injury or trauma leading to massive toxic calcium influx into the cells causing cell death,” Khanna said. “Our strategy was to regulate this protein – to control it but not block it completely since some calcium is needed for fundamental cellular functions.”

The most common injury seen after stroke and accidents is Traumatic brain injury, following which CDB3 does not result in the death of neurons, say the scientists.

According to authors, efficacy testing of this peptide in a blast injury model is presently in progress. Dr. Riyi Shi from Purdue University has joined forces with researchers from Indiana University, and they say that the blast injury model imitates injuries sustained from explosions, motorbike accidents, and other trauma.

According to Khanna, sufficient peptide can easily cross the blood-brain barrier via a single systemic CDB3 injection and: “. . . produce a marked reduction in cell death in the hippocampus, an area important for memory and learning.”
Using an open-head contusive model in rats with traumatic brain injury, scientists have effectively prevented cell death.

Khanna said: “We’ve extended the function of this peptide beyond pain and the fact that CBD3 protects neurons when given two hours after stroke is very promising.”

The authors hope to test the peptide for longer intervals with different kinds of brain injuries, and expect to produce drugs that can combat traumatic brain injury, and other neuronal insults.

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