Researcher at KU Medical Center Examines Drug for Improving Symptoms Associated with Concussions

Saturday, December 09, 2023

The standard treatment for individuals with concussions typically involves rest and the limitation of both physical and mental activities. Dr. Michael Rippee, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, is collaborating with a company to investigate a novel drug treatment as a potential improvement over conventional approaches, such as resting in dark rooms and reducing activity.

This groundbreaking drug, known as OXE103, is derived from ghrelin, a multifaceted gut hormone recognized for its effects on food intake, fat deposition, and growth hormone release. Ghrelin, often referred to as the "hunger hormone," is being synthetically developed by Oxeia Biopharmaceuticals specifically for the treatment of concussions. Dr. Rippee and his team conducted a pilot study to assess the efficacy of OXE103, with the clinical trial sponsored by Oxeia Biopharmaceuticals in collaboration with the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Concussions, classified as mild traumatic brain injuries, occur when a head injury causes the brain to move back and forth within the skull. They can result from various incidents such as falls, car accidents, or sports injuries. Studies indicate that concussions are a common reason for seeking medical treatment, with nearly one in four Americans reporting having experienced a concussion, and a third of those individuals enduring long-lasting symptoms, according to a study by National Public Radio. Athletes, in particular, face a 5-10% risk of experiencing a concussion each year.

The clinical trial, involving 21 participants who had experienced a recent concussion, required self-administered injections of OXE103 twice a day for 14 days. While OXE103 is not a new drug, its application to concussions represents an unexplored avenue. As a synthetic version of a stomach-produced hormone that enters the brain, preclinical models suggest that ghrelin, the key component of OXE103, can influence both the neurometabolic cascade characteristic of concussions and the associated axonal damage.


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