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Amantadine - Interview with Dr. Nirav Shah

Shah Scrubs SmallNirav Shah MD

Dale: Recently, we have seen a lot of press in the media about this new medication called Amantadine. Could you give us a brief overview of what is and what exactly it treats?

Dr. Shah: Well Amantadine, itself, is an FDA approved drug that's used as a prophylactic agent in medications against Influenza. What we've noticed, though, is that with these patients there's been a lot of research in brain injury in which traumatic brain injury patients are treated with Amantadine for several weeks. It accelerates functional brain recovery. And that's one of the reasons why it's of interest as far as traumatic brain injury.

Basically the drug was originally developed to help combat the flu virus, but it actually was shown later to improve symptoms in neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson's, as well as cognitive function in injured brain tissue. And it's now being used widely as an experimental drug for the treatment of concussions, particularly in children. And so that's something that we've been seeing a fair amount of. So basically the ultimate mechanism is that is speeds up the recovery process of brain injury.

Dale: So is this the primary function of the drug or is this actually discovered to be a side effect of the drug?

Dr. Shah: It's actually a side effect of the drug.

Dale: Are there any negative risks that could possibly be associated with using the drug?

Dr. Shah: Well first of all it's still in the experimental stages as to why the mechanism of injury works in this- why this actually works, so we're still trying to figure it out. But Amantadine does have side effects. One of the things is that it can cause nervousness, anxiety, agitation, insomnia. It can also mimic psychiatric symptoms like schizophrenia. You know, one interesting thing about Amantadine is that it has certain microscopic properties. Such as, it mimics dopamine which is one of the big substances that are lacking in patients with Parkinson's Disease and that's why Amantadine is so useful in those patients. 

Dale: It kind of seems like this use for it is fairly new. So, with that said is it something you would recommend for patients or is this something that you would say you should be a little bit more on the cautious side about?

Dr. Shah: I think that you have to take each patient as a separate thing and you have to look at what their base line condition is, and I think that this drug is very useful in patients who have had contractible injury to their brains, particularly in concussions that don't heal, or severe brain injury.

We don't know the full extent of the drug and so it would still be considered fairly experimental in terms of its usage in brain injury. Therefore, I cannot recommend using this drug, in terms of treatment for brain injury but the research looks very positive and promising for its use eventually in the mainstream of traumatic brain injury.

 

LastUpdate: 2016-07-24 09:04:47

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