Startup gets $3M Army grant to study traumatic brain injuries
The Philadelphia Inquirer
PHILADELPHIA — QR Pharma is a five-year-old start-up company based in Berwyn, Pa., but the young firm has been able to connect with well-known people and groups as it seeks funding to make drugs to treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
In 2012, QR Pharma got $468,000 from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to explore a compound called Posiphen as a potential treatment for Parkinson's. This grant is for work that will be led by Robert Nussbaum of the University of California, San Francisco, and Jack T. Rogers, an associate professor of psychiatry at the genetics and aging research unit of Massachusetts General Hospital.
QR Pharma announced Tuesday that it received $3 million from the Army to study Posiphen as a treatment for traumatic brain injury. This grant is to study the medication in mice in two different trials, and will be conducted in conjunction with the University of California, Los Angeles. The UCLA doctors involved are Marie-Francoise Chesselet, chairwoman of the neurobiology department at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and David Hovda, who has been honored by the Army for his work in developing ways to treat TBI.
The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center tracks service members receiving a medical diagnosis of traumatic brain injury anywhere U.S. forces are located, including within the United States. More than 80 percent of traumatic brain injuries occur outside war zones. Common causes of TBI include crashes in military and privately owned vehicles, falls, sports and recreation activities, and military training, according to the center's website.
The center, which began keeping track of TBIs in 2000, found that the worst year for TBI in the military was 2011, when 32,625 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines were diagnosed with TBI of all severities.
The 2012 total decreased, and 2013 is on track for a still-lower figure. That positive trend is at least partially attributable to U.S. forces' withdrawing from Iraq completely by December 2011 and beginning to withdraw from Afghanistan.