Back to News and Events

Brain Health Round-Up: Life-Changing Therapies Highlight the Power of Research

Brain Health Round Up July 2021

From using the most expensive drug in the world to save lives to studying the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the brain, these are the latest updates on brain disease research

These five articles prove that by supporting and advancing more research on the brain, we will find better treatments, prevention, and cures for brain disease. Sometimes it can be by bringing life-saving drugs to more people. Likewise, it can be testing new therapies in hopes of finding effective cures for inherited blindness. It can even studying the neurological effects of COVID-19. Whatever the case, research is making an impact for those most affected by brain diseases. Read on to discover how.

Baby boy is first to receive £1.8m treatment for spinal muscular atrophy on NHS

Research led by Jerry Mendell, MD, FAAN, 2019 recipient of the American Brain Foundation’s Scientific Breakthrough Award, uncovered a one-time treatment for children with spinal muscular atrophy, an otherwise fatal disease and the leading genetic cause of death for children. The treatment, known as Zolgensma, provides a cure for Type I SMA. It is the most expensive drug in the world, coming in at a whopping £1.79m (over $2.5m) per dose. It has been available in the U.S. for some time through various insurance plans. However, it recently became available through the NHS, the national healthcare service in the U.K. Arthur Morgan, a five-month-old from England, received the gene therapy infusion only three weeks after first being diagnosed with SMA. Read the incredible story here.

Scientists Partially Restored a Blind Man’s Sight With New Gene Therapy

The Nature Medicine journal reports the first published study on the successful use of optogenetics. It’s a technique 13 years in the making that builds light-catching proteins in the eye. While it does not lead to the full restoration of sight, it shows that more effective treatments are to come. Recently, scientists applied this technique, partially restoring a man’s sight in one of his eyes. Learn more about this research and the future of optogenetics here.

9 Ways to Maximize Progress When Recovering from a Stroke

Neurologists used to think that survivors of stroke only had a six-month window to recover. After that, they would be left with whatever physical and cognitive limitations remained. Recent discoveries show that neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to form new neural pathways, allows the brain to continue regaining function almost limitlessly. Check out this Brain & Life® magazine article with advice from experts on how to help the brain utilize neuroplasticity to maximize recovery after stroke.

1 in 3 People Who Survive COVID-19 Are Left With ‘Brain Disease’ or Psychiatric Disorders, Says New Study

New research on the long-term effects of COVID-19 in The Lancet Psychiatry suggests that as many as a third of COVID-19 survivors struggle with brain disease or other psychiatric disorders. However, of the 34 percent of COVID-19 survivors who were diagnosed with either a neurological disorder or psychological condition within six months of infection, only a small number experienced brain hemorrhaging, stroke, or dementia. Learn more about the potential connection between COVID-19 and brain diseases here.

The American Brain Foundation believes that, one day, we can live in a reality without brain disease—and it all starts with funding research to discover cures. To support our work of connecting scientists with donors, make your gift today.