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Brain pressure remedy found in common diabetes drug

A drug commonly used to treat patients with obesity or type 2 diabetes could be used as a new way to lower brain pressure, for which treatments are desperately needed, researchers say.

A drug commonly used to treat patients with obesity or type 2 diabetes could be used as a new way to lower brain pressure, for which treatments are desperately needed, researchers say

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A drug commonly used to treat patients with obesity or type 2 diabetes could be used as a new way to lower brain pressure, researchers say.

Raised brain pressure is common in emergencies such as traumatic brain injury, hydrocephalus and stroke, and is also the cardinal feature of idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH).

IIH causes disabling daily headaches and severely raised pressure around the nerves in the eye.

Rapid and dramatic

Over a three-year period, researchers at the University of Birmingham examined whether GLP-1 agonist drugs – existing drugs used in the treatment of diabetes and obesity – could reduce intracranial pressure in an animal model of raised brain pressure.

They found LP-1 agonist extendin-4 significantly reduces brain pressure rapidly and dramatically, by around 44%, with significant effects from just 10 minutes of dosing that lasted at least 24 hours.

Corresponding author Alexandra Sinclair of the University of Birmingham said: 'Treatments to lower brain pressure are lacking and new treatments are desperately needed.'


Botfield H et al (2017) A glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist as a therapeutic to reduce intracranial pressure. Science Translational Medicine. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan0972

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