North Texas doctors believe they may have found a wonder drug, something that could both increase survival rates and speed recovery in trauma patients—and clinical trials are now under way to find out. So what is this potential miracle cure? Surprisingly, it’s the female hormone estrogen. The female hormone estrogen might help speed recovery in trauma patients.
PROTECTION FROM WITHIN
“For years we’ve known that women experience a protective benefit from estrogen in regards to Alzheimer’s, coronary artery disease and dementia,” says Michael Ramsay, M.D., president of Baylor Research Institute (BRI).
“But more recently, we’ve discovered that estrogen’s unique protective abilities may be beneficial for trauma patients as well.”
Preliminary laboratory research suggests that estrogen could decrease ultimate brain injury and increase survival by up to 65 percent in everything from cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke to spinal cord injury, burns, hemorrhagic shock and sepsis.
So how does it work?
“Shock from blood loss and trauma can damage the inner lining of blood vessels, which causes toxic molecules to be released to damage major organs,” Dr. Ramsay explains.
“Estrogen seems to protect the lining and prevent the release of those molecules.”
TO THE RESCUE
Despite these compelling findings, there were no clinical trials studying estrogen in trauma until 2009, when a collaboration began between University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital, joined by Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas and BRI in 2010.
“There have been 30 years of bench research on estrogen, but no one had previously been able to translate it into a human study,” says Jane Wigginton, M.D., associate professor at UT Southwestern and principal investigator of the studies.
“It’s a tribute to these organizations that they were able to get these studies off the ground.”
The RESCUE (Resuscitative Endocrinology: Single-dose Clinical Uses for Estrogen) studies include a single, early IV dose of estrogen to patients with shock and TBI. Though results aren’t expected until fall 2013, expectations are high.
“These studies could result in the use of a drug that is safe, inexpensive and easy to deliver—and that could forever change the way we care for trauma patients,” Dr. Wigginton says.
“Truly, the whole world is watching.”
This information originally appeared in the May 2013 edition of Baylor Health Magazine.