NNZ-2566 is an investigational drug that is being developed by Neuren Pharmaceuticals and the U.S. Army to treat TBI.
The drug is based on a very similar chemical that occurs naturally in the brain, but it has been altered in such a way that it stays in the body longer. NNZ-2566 was discovered by scientists at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who found that it had an ability to protect nerve cells from damage. Since 2004, scientists from the U.S. Army Walter Reed Army Institute of Research have been involved in research to show how NNZ-2566 reduces brain damage and seizures after TBI.
Neuren Pharmaceuticals is responsible for proving that NNZ-2566 is safe and effective to treat TBI, a process involving laboratory studies, animal studies, and finally studies in humans. This is called drug development which, in the United States, is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Neuren must prove to the FDA that the benefits that NNZ-2566 may have to treat TBI patients outweigh the risks of the drug. The FDA has very strict regulations on what needs to be done to prove that a drug is safe and effective to give to people and how the testing of the drug is carried out.
Why is the Army Involved?
Over the past 10 years, the incidence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) experienced by armed forces personnel in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq has increased significantly over that seen in previous wars. TBI is a leading cause of battlefield death and long term disability. It is estimated that upwards of 60%* of all combat related casualties that are admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center or Bethesda Medical Center may be suffering from some level of brain injury. Increased attention and funding has been given to ways of protecting service members from TBI, to improving medical care and resources for recovery following a TBI, and for research into new drugs and other approaches to treat TBI. To advance the care and treatment of TBI patients, the military conducts research and collaborates with many public and private organizations to investigate the potential usefulness of new medicines to improve recovery. NNZ-2566 is one such drug and in addition to the early work on NNZ-2566 that was undertaken by scientists at the US Army's research laboratories, the US Army has further supported the testing of this drug in TBI by awarding two grants to help complete of the INTREPID-2566 study.
*Statistic from the Combat Casualty Care website at this link.