By Richard Kopke
Webster’s defines serendipity as, “the phenomenon of finding valuable things not sought for.” You might wonder why a hearing research organization is studying conditions and diseases like traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer’s Disease. The answer: serendipity.
One of our Department of Defense-funded research tasks was to see if our pill technology for noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus (the pill known as NHPN-1010) would also be effective in reducing blast-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. Blast waves cause hearing loss as well as a concussion injury to the brain. It occurred to us that it might be helpful to look at the brain tissue of test subjects for signs of injury and possible reduction of injury with treatment. Somewhat to our surprise and delight, we found treatment with NHPN-1010 did, in fact, reduce a number of key markers for brain injury. One of those key markers was pathologic tau protein described in more detail by Dr. West in another article in this blog. Pathologic tau is a marker for brain injury and a highly toxic protein that kills nerve cells. It is also able to spread throughout the brain from cell to cell increasing damage. This toxic protein plays a key role in causing damage in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and a host of other degenerative brain diseases.
Although this article is titled “serendipity,” it is more likely that the good Lord opened our eyes to these findings. We are making substantial efforts to move this technology towards commercialization and the clinic to be available for patients who need help for these devastating conditions.