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Poulsen Studies Neuroprotective Agent for Traumatic Brain Injury

David Poulsen, PhD

David Poulsen, PhD

Published March 6, 2017

David Poulsen, PhD, professor of translational neuroscience in the Department of Neurosurgery, has received $966,000 in private funding to further study a novel neuroprotective agent for moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).

May Reduce Neuroinflammation After TBI

Poulsen’s previous work on developing therapies to treat injuries to the central nervous system strongly suggest that phenoxybenzamine is highly neuroprotective when given within eight hours after a severe TBI.

Phenoxybenzamine is an FDA-approved treatment for humans and animals to reduce hypertension and excessive sweating associated with adrenal tumors, but Poulsen says it may also may exert a neuroprotective effect by reducing neuroinflammation after TBI.

Neuropathology, Physiological Responses Explored

Poulsen’s new study — titled “Preclinical Therapeutic Window Study of Phenoxybenzamine in Moderate-Severely Injured TBI Rats” — encompasses several goals:

  • to determine the therapeutic window of phenoxybenzamine following moderate-to-severe TBI

“This will define how long after injury phenoxybenzamine can be given and still produce a beneficial effect,” Poulsen says.

  • to complete validation and verification of candidate biomarkers with the blood “to allow for an objective assessment of injury severity and the ability to monitor a physiological response of patients to treatment with phenoxybenzamine”
  • to complete high-throughput proteomics analysis of brain tissue following severe TBI in rats, comparing treated and untreated samples

“This will provide us with a comprehensive picture of the neuropathology that occurs in the brain following TBI and help us to understand what molecular mechanisms are involved in phenoxybenzamine-mediated neuroprotection,” Poulsen says.

TBI Affects More than 1.7 Million Each Year in U.S.

TBI is a national health concern that affects more than 1.7 million individuals each year in the United States.

Of further concern is the lack of effective treatments to reduce the primary or secondary phase of neuropathology induced by TBI, Poulsen notes.

“The development of novel neuroprotective agents has proven difficult, as TBI represents a heterologous injury,” he says.

Startup Biotech Firm in UB Incubator Project Sponsor

Poulsen is principal investigator on the two-year project, which is funded by NeuroTrauma Sciences, LLC.

“The company is focused on the development of safe and effective neuroprotective treatments for stroke and TBI,” Poulsen says.

The startup biotech company is based in Atlanta but has an office in the UB Biosciences Incubator, located in the Clinical and Translational Research Center on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.