UNT Health Science Center's Groundbreaking Research Applied to Protecting Brain After...

Fri Jul 3, 2009 12:02pm EDT

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UNT Health Science Center's Groundbreaking Research Applied to Protecting
Brain After Traumatic Injury
Simpkins' estrogen research could save lives of trauma victims

FORT WORTH, Texas, July 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In groundbreaking
research, scientists at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at
Fort Worth have determined that rapid estrogen administration can protect the
brain following brain injury. These findings are now being tested on human
trauma patients in North Texas.

James Simpkins, Ph.D., UNT Health Science Center chair of the Department of
Pharmacology and Neuroscience, and Jane Wigginton, M.D., Department of
Surgery, Division of Emergency Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center of
Dallas, are translating these animal studies of the protective effects of
rapid estrogen treatment to human patients with severe traumatic brain injury
and hemorrhagic shock. 

"Our animal research has demonstrated that rapid estrogen intervention
protects the brain following injury, including stroke or sudden cardiac
arrest," Simpkins said. "Now, UT Southwestern and Parkland Health and Hospital
System are advancing our research from the UNT Health Science Center to these
studies in human subjects. If we can administer these drugs to trauma victims
very early, I believe that we can protect the brain and increase survival."

Simpkins' studies in animals found that rapidly administering a single dose of
estrogen, a strong anti-oxidant and an anti-inflammatory drug, following a
stroke increases brain cell survival by up to 65 percent. Estrogens delivered
intravenously post injury may have similar effects on people with traumatic
brain injury. "We know these substances can protect the brain and believe them
safe for use in this patient population," Simpkins said. 

The clinical trials are based on now hundreds of scientific publications from
Simpkins' group and others demonstrating the protective effects of estrogens
in acute brain injury. Simpkins leads a large National Institutes of
Health-funded program of research to discover substances that can protect the
brain from injury. This is the first major clinical study to emanate from
these basic science studies at the University of North Texas Health Science
Center at Fort Worth.

Estrogens are made in large amounts by young women, but only in small amounts
by men. Prior studies have suggested that young women are more resistant to
brain trauma injury than are older, post-menopausal women and men. This
apparent resistance of young women to brain trauma may be because of their
higher estrogen levels. These current studies of the effects of rapid estrogen
administration on patients with traumatic brain injury and hemorrhagic shock
will be a test of this proposal. 

In 1994, Simpkins discovered that estrogens were protective to nerve cells and
subsequently has demonstrated that, if administered soon after brain injury in
animals, estrogens can protect nerve cells and reduce neurological deficits.
Application of these discoveries to human subjects awaited the interactions of
Simpkins with the pioneering clinical research of Wigginton, who is now the
first to take estrogens into clinical trials for acute brain injury and
hemorrhagic shock.

University of North Texas Health Science Center
The University of North Texas Health Science Center comprises the Texas
College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences,
the School of Public Health, and the School of Health Professions. Key
research areas include aging and Alzheimer's disease, cancer and physical
medicine.  This year, the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine was named a
top 50 medical school in primary care by U.S. News & World Report for the
eighth consecutive year. "Fort Worth's medical school and more" contributes
more than $400 million to the Tarrant County and Texas economies annually. 
For more information, go to http://www.hsc.unt.edu/. 



SOURCE  University of North Texas Health Science Center/Fort Worth

Dana Benton Russell, ABC, University of North Texas Health Science Center/Fort
Worth, +1-817-735-2446, drussell@hsc.unt.edu
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