Almost 2 million people around the country sustain a traumatic brain injury every year. When a TBI occurs, the brain will respond by producing a cerebral edema, which cannot be treated with medication and can result in a coma or death. However, some individuals suffer little ill effects from TBI and have researchers wanting to know why there are strikingly different outcomes from similar injuries.
A researcher at Duke University theorizes that the manner in which the body responds to an injury is determined by genetics. While examining the genetic elements that could affect the outcome of a brain injury, he found that a genetic disparity in apolipoprotein E, a protein, was a factor. One of the three variations of apoE, apoE4, was linked to adverse outcomes after the brain sustained an injury.
The researcher published an article in 1997 regarding the effect of apoE on mice that suffered a stroke and discovered that the mice with the apoE gene variant recovered better than the mice with an apoE deficiency. The results of the studies were later duplicated in another article in 2011 which reported that animals that had apoE and had sustained a traumatic brain injury fared better than the animals that lacked the protein.
The first phase of a clinical trial that tested the safety of a peptide based on the apoE protein and that could cross the blood-brain barrier was successfully completed in July of 2011. The second phase will determine if the peptide can improve the outcomes of individuals with brain hemorrhages.
Traumatic brain injuries can occur from a variety of causes, ranging from contact sports to slips and falls to car collisions. If it can be determined that the injury was the result of another party’s negligence, an attorney who has experience with these types of matters could be of assistance to a patient in seeking compensation for medical expenses and other damages through a lawsuit filed against the at-fault party.