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Texas Professor Discovers A Pill To Heal Concussions

SAN ANTONIO  (CBSDFW.COM) - Despite advances in helmet designs and greater overall awareness, preventing concussions in football has proven elusive.

This is why a discovery by a Texas professor may be the ultimate game changer.

Dr. James Lechleiter of the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio has come up with a "concussion pill".

"The real challenge has been how do you fix (a concussion)," said Dr. Lechleiter, a professor of cellular and structural biology.

His discovery, however; came by surprise.

In his lab in San Antonio, Dr. Lechleiter and his team thought they had come up with a drug to kill cancer cells in the brain.

"That turned out not to be the case," said the professor.

However, what the Texas scientist realized is instead of killing cancer cells, his compound actually enhanced the ability of cells to repair brain damage.

It boost the ability of astrocytes to naturally heal damaged neurons in the brain.

"We were so surprised to the point where I made the students repeat this experiment many times," he said.

Taken within minutes after a blow to the head, Dr. Lechleiter said this pill could negate the long term effects caused by a concussion. If it's not needed, there are currently no known side effects, according to the professor.

The San Antonio professor is currently seeking government approval to start clinical trails. He said it could be five to ten years before the "concussion pill" is available.

Dr. Lechleiter said he could see the day when this "concussion pill" is taken by football players after every practice and game.

"That would have been helpful," said 13-year-old London Glenn.

Glenn, an eighth grader at Hill County Middle School in Austin, suffered a concussion last fall during football practice.

"My head just whiplashed into the ground," Glenn recalled.

The Texas teenager said he wasn't too concerned at first but over the next couple weeks his headache kept "getting worse and worse and worse."

Glenn missed nine weeks of schools. During this time there was little he could do other than sleep.

"It was terrifying," said his mother, Lucy Humble.

Nearly a year later, doctors say Glenn appears to have fully recovered from his brain injury.

Humble said she is encouraged by any advancements in concussion research so other families might someday not have to go through what they did.

For Glenn his healing took time. Perhaps for others someday all it might take is a pill.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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