(DGIwire) – Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been in the spotlight as a result of athletes being found to have chronic traumatic encephalitis from repetitive sports-related head injuries. However, as recently noted in Psychiatry Advisor, TBI has long been a significant cause of injury and death in the United States.
According to findings presented at the 2017 Psych Congress, for example, one-third of injury-related deaths are linked to TBI; falls are the leading cause of TBI (40.5 percent) and also the leading cause of nursing home admittances. Other leading causes of TBI include motor vehicle accidents and assault, with nearly one-fifth of TBI being due to an unknown cause. TBI is additionally a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, elderly patients with chronic deficits from TBI are at increased risk for dementia and are more likely to experience depression, agitation and irritability. TBI has also been associated with depression, suicidal ideation and attempted suicide.
“Among the multiple conditions associated with TBI, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is key,” says Ascher Shmulewitz, MD, PhD, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Therapix Biosciences. “Work is ongoing to address this symptom and thereby alleviate at least part of the suffering experienced by TBI patients.”
Therapix is studying a ultra-low dose formulation of dronabinol for potential use in addressing MCI. Dronabinol, which is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is a biosynthetic form of the cannabinoid THC, and has been used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer medications.
Although cannabis has been shown to cause long-term cognitive deficits in chronic users manifested as impairment in attention, memory or executive functions, paradoxically, research—including work published in The Journal of Neuroscience Research—suggests ultra-low doses of THC can actually prevent and reverse cognitive decline.
The company has generated compelling data suggesting that its compound THX-ULD01 may find use in addressing the cognitive decline associated with MCI and traumatic brain injury—specifically, that it reversed age-related cognitive impairment in old mice. The data from the Therapix study suggest that the extremely low doses of THC in the treatment, which are devoid of any psychotropic effect, should be studied further to determine if it can provide a safe and effective treatment for cognitive decline in humans.
“Giving TBI patients new hope would be a boon for all whose lives have been directly or indirectly affected by this condition,” Dr. Shmulewitz adds.