Journal article Open Access
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The scarcity of pharmacological neuroprotective treatments for traumatic brain injury is a concern being targeted on various fronts. This review examines the latest treatments under investigation. RECENT FINDINGS: In the last 12-18 months, no drug has completed phase III clinical trials as a clearly proven method to treat traumatic brain injury. While the drugs work in rodents, when they make it to clinical trial they have failed primarily due to negative side-effects. Those still in trial show promise, and even those rejected have undergone modifications and now show potential, e.g. second-generation N-methyl-D-aspartic acid and alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-methyl-4-isoxazolyl-propionic acid receptor antagonists, calpain inhibitors, and cyclosporine A analogues. Also, several drugs not previously given much attention, such as the antibiotic minocycline, estrogen and progesterone, and a drug already approved for other diseases, erythropoietin, are being examined. Finally, a treatment generating some controversy, but showing potential, is the application of hypothermia to the patients. SUMMARY: Clearly, finding treatments for traumatic brain injury is not going to be easy and is evidently going to require numerous trials. The good news is that we are closer to finding one or more methods for treating traumatic brain injury patients.