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A Pill To Treat Concussions Is On The Way

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- London Glen's concussion story is all too familiar.

"If something was too loud I would start getting a terrible headache," Glen said. "Or if I was in some really bright light I would start getting a headache."

The 13-year-old missed nine weeks of school last year after a tough tackle in a seventh-grade football game.

"I had a dull … pain in my head, and sometimes I would get just a terrible headache where I couldn't do anything," he said.

We've seen it with Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer of the Twins, Pierre Marc Bouchard of the Wild and so many NFL players.

Just last week, the Cardinals' John Abraham took a leave from his team because of concussions.

And Olympic hockey star Amanda Kessel was forced to take a year off from the Gophers.

"It was really frustrating when I wasn't able to do the same things I could do," Glen said.

But there may be help in pill form, according to Dr. James Lechleiter of the University of Texas-San Antonio.

"The drug inside the pill is designed so that it does not get into the brain unless actually it's damaged," Lechleiter said. "And so if you don't actually have damage or an injury that day, it's excreted and so you're good to go."

While searching for a cancer cure, he discovered compounds that stimulate the special cells that protect the brain from long-term damage.

"Once that drug is added and stimulates this receptive pathway, it should then naturally stimulate this supporting cell in the brain," he said.

He received a patent and is working on a pill that could be taken -- by athletes, soldiers or anybody -- right after they suffer a head injury.

"Sometimes you know that if you've been hit in the head that you aren't quite right, that it'd be nice if I could take something sort of [to] relieve the headache, but [also] actually the damage that was causing that headache," Lechleiter said.

The next step is a stage-one clinical trial to make sure there aren't any toxic side effects.

Dr. Lechleiter hopes the drug will hit the market within the next five years.

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