How To Prevent Seizures After Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
Between 10 and 20 percent of all cases of epilepsy result from severe traumatic brain injury. A team of researchers from multiple universities led by integrative biologist Daniela Kaufer of UC Berkeley has demonstrated why this happens and how to prevent seizures consequent to TBI. Using MRI they observed that the blood-brain-barrier in rats breaks down for a period of several weeks after a severe head injury. This permits the blood protein albumin to leak into the brain which sets off an inflammation process leading ultimately to the development of a permanent seizure disorder. They also found that a safe, FDA approved blood pressure drug called losartan (Cozaar) blocks albumin from activating a specific receptor in the rat brain that is responsible for inflammation. Without losartan 100% of the rats given a severe TBI developed seizures, but with losartan only 40% did. This very promising bit of research was published in the April 2014 issue of the Annals of Neurology.
Hopefully human trials using losartan can begin within the next few years. Giving people a harmless blood pressure drug to prevent seizures is a huge improvement over waiting for seizures to start after brain injury and then giving people very expensive drugs with lots of side effects to stop the seizures.