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Making headway against traumatic brain injuries

Published On: May 20 2013 10:17:48 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 04 2013 03:46:13 PM CDT
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(NewsUSA) - Despite the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions among athletes and service members, the road to diagnosis and prevention is an unpaved one riddled with obstacles.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more than 1 million sports-related traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. every year, striking middle-schoolers and professional football players alike. Concussions comprise nearly 90 percent of the 1.4 million TBI-related deaths, hospitalizations and ER visits each year.

President Obama recently outlined the need for better research on the brain, particularly in relation to TBIs. Congress will soon review the BRAIN Initiative -- likened to the Human Genome Project -- and House Majority leader Eric Cantor has already showed early support.

To help connect athletes and soldiers suffering from TBIs with the physicians and business leaders who can help, the Coalition for Concussion Treatment (#C4CT) was created. On Friday, June 21, the #C4CT is holding a Concussion Awareness Summit at the Minneapolis Club in Minnesota to explore gaps in TBI care, new approaches and long-term effects.

One Mind for Research is a nonprofit that will be a recipient of part of the summit's proceeds. It is launching a new TBI initiative, the Gemini Program, to track 3,000-5,000 patients and provide improved diagnostics and treatments. The Wounded Warrior Project has awarded a $3.5 million matching challenge grant to the Gemini Program.

"TBIs and their effects on amateur and professional football players are emerging as a rallying point to better understand the brain and treatments," said former college football and hockey player Gerald E. Commissiong, also president and CEO of Amarantus BioScience Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB: AMBS) -- one leg of #C4CT. "We are proud to be among the first to unite the groups affected."

Amarantus (www.Amarantus.com) is showing promising early results. Its primary therapeutic program, called Mesencephalic-Astrocyte-derived Neurotrophic Factor (MANF), shows the ability to treat concussions.

In addition to Amarantus, the other legs of the #C4CT alliance are just as vital -- advisory firm Brewer Sports International (BSI), Toi Cook Management Group (TCMG) and Banyan Biomarkers. Banyan Biomarkers has an ongoing 2,000-subject clinical study that is funded by a $26.3 million contract from the Department of Defense.

"As an ex-NFL player, I experienced hundreds of violent collisions, and have teammates and friends who suffer the lasting effects of TBI," says Jack Brewer, CEO at BSI. "Now it's up to all NFL players to use our influence to catalyze research in TBI."