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Published on 22 February 2010

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Steroid offers brain injury hope

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Phase III trials of a pioneering new hormone treatment for brain damaged patients have been announced.

More than 1,000 brain damaged patients will take part in the trials, which will investigate claims that progesterone – the female sex steroid – reduces the risk of death and long-term disability in people who have recently suffered severe head injuries.

The hormone, more commonly known for its use in the contraceptive Pill, is thought to encourage the development of neurons in the brain.

Research also suggests that progesterone also protects damaged brain tissue, raising hopes that it could be used to control the extent of internal damage in head injury victims.

The ProTECT III study will be led by scientists from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where the neuro-protective properties of progesterone were first discovered more than 25 years ago.

The three-year study will examine the effects of progesterone in 1,140 brain damaged patients at 17 medical centres across the US.

Copyright Press Association 2010
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