New research shows inhibiting certain enzymes decreases the severity of traumatic brain injury (TBI), providing a target for future treatments. This research was published July 19th in the Brain. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is most often caused by a blow to the head sustained in a fall, car or truck accident, or any other accident.
Professor Medcalf said the researchers identified two enzymes, known as t-PA and MMP-3, that act together to promote injury severity following TBI.
“The enzyme t-PA, well known for its ability to remove blood clots, also has a healthy and very important role in supporting learning and memory functions in everyday life. However, previous research has shown that in TBI cases, its presence makes the injury much worse,” Professor Medcalf said.
t-PA was once thought to worsen the injury, but its inhibition triggers the activation of MMP-3, the enzyme which does the damage.
“The activity of naturally occurring enyzmes is controlled by specific enzyme inhibitors,” Professor Medcalf said.
“Unexpectedly, we found that the process of t-PA inactivation by one of its natural inhibitors actually contributed to brain injury, because it leads to the activation of MMP-3.
“Now we know that if we block MMP-3 with an inhibitor, we can protect the brain following TBI,” Professor Medcalf said.
“We now have a new and promising therapeutic target for the treatment of human TBI, which has not, so far, been significantly improved by pharmacological intervention,” Professor Rosenfeld said.
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