A trial led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine has shown that tranexamic acid (TXA) could help cut the number of deaths among traumatic brain injury patients.

TXA inhibits blood clot breakdown and prevents bleeding into the brain.

The CRASH-3 trial showed that the drug led to a 20% reduction in head injury deaths compared to placebo.

During the trial, more than 12,000 head injury patients were administered with an intravenous formulation of the drug or placebo at 175 hospitals across 29 countries.

It was observed that TXA given within three hours of injury decreased the number of deaths. The effect was found to be higher in mild and moderate traumatic brain injury patients, with no clear benefit in people who were most severely injured.

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Investigators did not report any adverse effects or increase in disability in survivors treated with TXA.

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine clinical trials professor Ian Roberts said: “This hugely exciting new result shows that early treatment with TXA also cuts deaths from head injury. It’s an important breakthrough and the first neuroprotective drug for patients with head injury.

“We believe that if our findings are widely implemented, they will boost the chances of people surviving head injuries in both high-income and low-income countries around the world.”

Early treatment with TXA is considered important as the drug could prevent bleeds from getting worse but cannot reverse the damage that has already occurred.

The trial found a 10% decrease in treatment effectiveness for every 20-minute delay.

CRASH-3 builds on previous research findings that administration of TXA within three hours could reduce deaths due to bleeding outside of the skull by around 33%.