“Old Drug” Repurposed May Prevent Birth Damage in High Risk Newborns

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[Source:  Medical X-Press]

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A 27-year-old drug for anemia may protect newborns at high risk for brain damage, according to the results of a multisite trial led by researchers at UC San Francisco.

Each year more than 800,000 deaths worldwide and many thousands of cases of permanent brain damage in the U.S. are attributed to hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a dysfunction of the nervous system caused by birth complications resulting in a drop in oxygen supply and inadequate blood flow to the brain and other organs.
Standard of care for HIE is hypothermia in which the head or whole body is cooled to 33.5ºC (92.3ºF) in order to accelerate healing. But hypothermia doesn’t save all patients.
“More than 40 percent of infants will die or suffer moderate to severe disabilities, including cerebral palsy, intellectual impairment and epilepsy,” said Yvonne Wu, a child neurologist and professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco, and lead author of the study. “We wanted to find something that could amplify effectiveness.”

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