Doctor Working On Pill To Heal Concussions

By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – If you’re a parent with a child who plays sports, you’ve got to be worried about concussions. Right now treatment is mostly rest, with no TV, reading or using computers.

But what if there was a pill that could heal concussions before they start damaging the brain? We found one doctor who is working on just that.

“What we are doing is, we think, enhancing the natural protective pathway in the brain,” says neuroscientist James Lechleiter, Ph.D.

The stakes are high. For 13-year-old football player London Glenn, it could have been a game changer. “My head whiplashed into the ground,” he says. London says the headache he got from one hit on the playing field was just miserable. “I just kept getting worse and worse and worse,” he says.

For nine weeks after doctors diagnosed London with a concussion, he certainly couldn’t play football. He couldn’t even go to school. There was little the seventh grader could do but sleep. “I was terrified. All they could tell us was, this happens and rest assured he’ll get better,” says Lucy Humble, London’s mother. A lot of kids go through what London went through.

At a University of Texas laboratory, Dr. James Lechleiter was working on a drug to kill cancer cells in the brain. Instead, it did just the opposite. “We were surprised with that to the point where I made this student repeat this experiment many times,” he says.

Rather than killing cancer cells the drug actually helped the cells repair brain damage. Taken within minutes of a blow to the head, it could negate the long term effects caused by a concussion. So in a few years, could we see football players walk off the field and take a concussion pill? “Yes, we could,” answers Lechleiter.

For more information about youth concussions visit CDC.gov.

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