Ness-Ziona, Israel -- (SBWIRE) -- 03/25/2014 -- MediCortex, a start-up pharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of neurodegenerative conditions, is developing therapeutic drug which will limit the long-term effects of brain injury, including the types of severe brain trauma that veterans have received in combat.
MediCortex, currently in the proof-of-concept stage, is seeking an investment to support synthesis and initial in-vitro tissue culture studies for assessing the biological activity and lack of toxicity of its pipeline compounds.
Traumatic Brain Injury is an extremely serious and, unfortunately, increasingly common condition which, for combat veterans, is in most cases the direct result of close proximity to the concussive force of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mortars, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and other explosive ordnance. The symptoms of TBI which occur as a result of repeated head trauma include sleep disturbance, problems with concentration, ringing in the ears, nausea, and seizures. When left untreated, these symptoms can develop into more severe neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Due to the concussive blasts of IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq, an alarming number of veterans – some 200,000, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center – currently suffer from TBI-related problems. Thirty percent of soldiers taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center since 2003 suffered traumatic brain injuries, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, according to the Betty Clooney Center.
Unfortunately, many if not most were misdiagnosed because, as noted by journalist and military affairs analyst Sharon Weinberger in her 2011 article “Bombs' Hidden Impact: the Brain War”, until fairly recently, the symptoms of TBI were often misclassified as symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the traditional diagnosis for soldiers with neurological and/or emotional problems.
In the article, Weinberger desribed how Dr. Walter Koroshetz, deputy director of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, explained how the growing awareness of TBI in athletes who had sustained repeated blows to the head during their careers, triggered the current acceptance in the medical world that soldiers were and are suffering from the same neurodegenerative effects of TBI as the athletes.
Why is TBI so insidious and so damaging?
The answer lies in the cascade of physiological events that follow brain trauma. In the hours, days, and weeks following a TBI, the increased permeability of the neuronal membrane allows for an excessive influx of metal ions and circulating free radicals which cause a series of protein degradation cascades and oxidation, leading to widespread molecular damage and neuronal cell death. In short, the damaged area after the initial trauma actually expands if not treated. Unfortunately for TBI sufferers, there are currently no anti-cascade treatments.
“The medical and pharmaceutical community has yet to develop a treatment that can prevent long-term neurodegenerative disorders caused by TBI,” comments Dr. Adrian Harel, the founder of MediCortex. “At MediCortex, we are working on developing treatments that not only alleviate the immediate symptoms of TBI, but also prevent the underlying condition from causing long-term, devastating consequences. Such a treatment would offer profound help to the men and women who have suffered brain trauma while serving overseas.”
Previous attempts to use a single biochemical mechanism to treat TBI have not been successful. The problem is that it is insufficient to stop just one aspect of the cascade. This is precisely why MediCortex is developing a multifunctional approach to treatment, which aims at decreasing circulating toxic metal ion levels in the brain as well as minimizing oxidation by free radicals. This synergistic approach is expected to prevent the cascade of events leading to brain degeneration.
MediCortex USA, Ltd. is a start-up pharmaceutical company dedicated to finding treatments for acute neurodegenerative conditions, including TBI, toxic nerve-agent exposure, and stroke. The company is currently focused on developing a multiplex treatment for traumatic brain injury and stroke. MediCortex was founded by Dr. Adrian Harel in 2011 in Delaware, USA, and operates as a privately owned company. Dr. Harel has a track record in leadership of early-stage drug discovery companies and business management.