A Canada drug that’s normally utilized to heal the flu and
Parkinson’s disease seems to hasten treatment in painful brain injury patients.
“Symmetrel appeared to increase
the rate of recovery compared to placebo. Patients got better faster while they
were on the drug,” said study co-author Joseph Giacino, director of
rehabilitation neuropsychology at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, in
Boston, and an associate professor in the department of physical medicine and
rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
Study co-author Dr. John Whyte,
director of the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute at Albert Einstein
Healthcare Network, in the Philadelphia area, said previous observational
studies had suggested to buy Symmetrel
and improved the rate of recovery.
“There were many hypotheses out
there about what this drug should do, but there was very little data to support
or refute those hypotheses,” Whyte explained.
“During the four-week treatment
period, recovery was significantly faster in the Symmetrel group than the
placebo group,” said Giacino.
The ability of patients in a
vegetative state or those in the MCS “to access rehab has gotten less and
less,” Whyte said. “Many of these patients go straight to a nursing
home or home with family.” He noted
The new finding “is very
exciting because we have a new tool to help improve these patients in their
early outcome,” said one expert, Dr. J. Javier Provencio, director of the
Neurocritical Care Fellowship Program at the Cerebrovascular Center of the
Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute.
“The take-home message is that
this medicine is promising for patients in a very certain setting. I think the
results have to be taken very strictly and not extrapolated to other
conditions,” said Provencio.
That means that, “it is still
unclear whether the effects last,” Provencio said. “In the study, by
week six, the effect difference was getting smaller. I hope they follow these
patients out to a year to see how they do.”
Study co-author Giacino said they
were surprised when they saw an immediate leveling off between the two groups
in the final two weeks.
“But when I take a step back, it
is even stronger evidence that this drug was doing something,” he added.
Neurologist Dr. Daniel Labovitz, of
Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, believes hope should remain in
check despite the promising results. “It’s not a home run. It’s a small
change and it was temporary, and I think that would be the message that has to
Labovitz said the drug appears to be
gently waking the patients. “If this trial holds up in larger, longer-term
studies, maybe you can enhance the ability of [rehabilitation] therapists to
interact with patients while they’re on the drug.”
“There was not a single category
where the Symmetrel group had a higher rate of side effects than the placebo
group,” he said.