A world-first international study in dementia has identified a new drug capable of stopping athletes developing dementia after sustaining repeated head injuries in their career.
The research, led by the University of South Australia findings could prevent the progression of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in sportspeople who receive repeated blows to the head.
Professor Bob Vink and his colleagues demonstrated how repeated concussions can cause CTE and a way to block it with a specially developed drug.
The team of researchers from Adelaide, Melbourne and the United States say the brain releases a neurotransmitter called substance P in the event of a head injury, causing abnormal amounts of the tau protein to collect inside neurons.
Our research shows that by blocking substance P with a specific drug, we can prevent the tau protein tangles from developing in the brain and causing neurological problems.Prof Bob Vink – UniSA Emeritus Professor
“Our research shows that by blocking substance P with a specific drug, we can prevent the tau protein tangles from developing in the brain and causing neurological problems.” Prof Vink
Sportspeople across the globe are affected by CTE, particularly in contact sports such as rugby, football and boxing and the new findings will be particularly welcome in these fields.
Previous research has shown that former professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population.
Source: University of South Australia