UC Davis Department of Neurology neurotherapeutics research focuses on finding treatments for disorders of the human brain and nervous system. Faculty members are working to create drugs that protect the human brain from life-threatening injury and rid it of deadly brain cancers, like glioblastoma.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when the human brain is injured due to impact. Swelling is the number one concern of TBI. Immediate symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. Long-term damage to cognitive or motor abilities depends also depends on the extent of damage, as well as the person’s age and other factors.
Medical personnel treating TBI patients focus on preventing further injury, but have few options for controlling rapid swelling. Department researchers have developed new compounds that, in animal models, have been shown to protect against brain injury following trauma.
Brain cancer is the leading cancer-related death for those under the age of 35. Every year, 17,000 Americans are diagnosed with primary brain cancer, which is responsible for 13,000 deaths a year.
Glioblastoma, the most common and deadly type of brain cancer, is characterized by tumors with irregular borders that are highly invasive and difficult to remove. Today, a person diagnosed with glioblastoma has only a 5 percent chance of surviving more than two years.
While researching possible treatments for TBI, department researchers discovered that an FDA-approved diuretic called amiloride, killed recurrent brain tumors and cancer cells responsible for metastasis. They have since created other compounds that kill highly metastatic cancer, including glioblastoma and metastatic breast cancer. They are also working to design new drugs to try to treat inflammation of the brain associated with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and encephalitis.
Research continues on the development of these drugs to treat TBI and brain cancer.