Researchers probe Alzheimer's meds for trauma victims

A new generation of therapies targeted at Alzheimer's disease could play a key role in fighting the long-term damage inflicted by brain trauma.

New drugs called gamma-secretase inhibitors are intended to prevent the buildup of amyloid plaque commonly found in the brains of Alzheimer victims. But the same plaque is often found in the brains of trauma victims, and researchers say that the same disease pathways activated by Alzheimer's are also activated by brain trauma. They also were working with the knowledge that patients suffering a trauma are at significant risk of developing Alzheimer's.

"No one knows why it occurs, but abnormal amounts of amyloid plaque have been found during an autopsy in about a third of brain injury victims, some of whom were children who would ordinarily never have had these deposits," said Mark Burns, a neuroscientist and assistant professor at Georgetown and the study's lead author. "Remarkably, these deposits occur in less than one day after injury."

Now Burns and his colleagues want to test their theory on humans to see if Alzheimer's drugs can help trauma patients.

- check out the report in HealthDay News