Berwyn's QR Pharma gets $3 million from U.S. Army for traumatic brain injury study

QR Pharma is a five-year-old start up based in Berwyn, but the young company has connected with well-known people and groups as it seeks funding to make drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

In 2012, QR Pharma got $468,000 from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) to conduct research on compound called Posiphen as a potential treatment for Parkinson's. This grant is for work that will be led by Dr. Robert Nussbaum of the University of California, San Francisco and Jack T. Rogers, an associate professor of psychiatry at the genetics and aging research unit of Massachusetts General Hospital.

On Tuesday, QR Pharma said it it got $3 million from the U.S. Army to study Posiphen as a treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI). This grant is to study the medication in two different trials in mice and it will be conducted in conjunction with the University of California Los Angeles. The UCLA doctors involved are Marie-Francoise Chesselet and David Hovda. Chesselet is chairwoman of the neurobiology department at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Hovda has been honored by the Army for his work in developing ways to treat TBI.

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (link here) keeps track of service members receiving a medical diagnosis of traumatic brain injury anywhere U.S. forces are located, including the continental U.S. Perhaps surprisingly, more than 80 percent of traumatic brain injuries occur outside of war zones. Common causes of TBI include crashes in privately owned and military vehicles, falls, sports and recreation activities, and military training, according to the DVBIC web site.

The DVBIC began keeping track of TBIs in 2000. The worst year for TBI in the military was 2011, when 32,625 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines were diagnosed with TBI of all severities.

The 2012 total decreased and 2013 is on track for a still lower figure. That positive trend is at least partially attributable to U.S. forces withdrawing from Iraq completely by December of 2011 and beginning to withdraw from Afghanistan.