How Methamphetamine Can Help Improve Function After Brain Injury

Researchers are testing methamphetamine to study its effect on mobility and cognitive function after a moderate to severe brain injury.

See other videos with Dr. David Poulsen.

So, we've tested the drug in an animal model of traumatic brain injury and we have ways of measuring functional ability--their ability to walk across the beam, the presence or absence of specific reflexes. That allows us to determine whether or not a therapy can improve functional behavior hopefully in a human. We also have them walk across the grid and measure how many times their feet slip off the grid. That's a measure of motor dexterity. And so we see significant improvement in animals that are treated with these low doses after traumatic brain injury in those behavioral assessments. So, we've also looked at their cognitive function--their ability to learn and then remember. And--again--treating with methamphetamine we've been able to show a significant improvement in both learning and memory. So when we deliver the drug, it is delivered for a defined time period. In rats--because of the half-life of the drug is very short-- we have to give a continuous infusion for 24-hours. In humans we would--the half-life is 10-hours--and so we would give a single injection, probably followed with a boost at 10-hours, and that would be sufficient--and that would be it. And the therapeutic effects that we're measuring--the assessments that we're giving these animals for behavioral function and cognitive function-- are--you know--a month or more after injury and treatment. So, there's no drug on board when we're doing these testings, and so the effect that we're seeing has a long lasting restorative effect. We could use this for mild, moderate, and severe; what we're looking at right now is the use of it for treating moderate to severe traumatic brain injury.
Posted on BrainLine February 8, 2013. Reviewed July 25, 2018.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough, Justin Rhodes, and Erica Queen, BrainLine.