Brett Favre Funding Drug to Treat Concussions; More NFL Figures Backing Research

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 7, 2017

MADISON, WI - JUNE 24:  Bret Favre during the Celebrity Foursome to benefit the American Family Children's Hospital held during the second round of the American Family Insurance Championship held at University Ridge Golf Course on June 24, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
Michael Cohen/Getty Images

Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre is helping fund research by pharmaceutical company Prevacus, which is developing a drug that would potentially combat concussions on the cellular level. 

Jenny Vrentas of SI.com detailed the research Tuesday:

"The drug, intended to be administered nasally within minutes after diagnosis of a brain injury, is a neurosteroid designed to work by stimulating three different gene promoters in brain cells that turn on cellular survival mechanisms to reduce swelling, inflammation, oxidative stress and cell death (all examples of trauma at the cellular level that are linked to both short- and long-term neurological impairment)."

Favre helped recruit former NFL quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Matt Hasselbeck, former head coach Steve Mariucci and former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. to Prevacus' sports advisory board, per Vrentas.

Favre discussed his investment:

"Bad news is building, so something has to be done, and it needs to be done quickly. If we come up with a drug that will treat concussions, maybe guys get back on the field more quickly, but more importantly maybe we don't have these conversations about present players 20 years down the road, like Tony Dorsett, and Junior Seau, and on and on."

While the drug has been tested on rats and shown "promising results," it has yet to go through clinical studies on human. 

But the idea that concussions could be treated pharmaceutically is an exciting development in the study of and prevention of head trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

As Vrentas reported, Favre isn't alone in supporting that type of pharmaceutical research. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is on the board of Oxeia, "another pharmaceutical company working on a synthetic molecule targeting the metabolic dysfunction in brain cells after concussion."

Certainly, head trauma is one of the biggest issues facing the future of football and the NFL.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in July (h/t Joe Ward, Josh Williams and Sam Manchester of the New York Times) that revealed 110 out of 111 examined brains of deceased NFL players had CTE.

And the long-term effects of the degenerative brain disorder remain on the mind of players like Favre who suffered a concussion or concussions in their careers.

"Playing 20 years and not missing a game in 19 of those is a great thing, but I can't believe that it's going to do anything good for my long-term health" the Hall of Famer told Vrentas. "And there's not a day goes by—of course, the news that I hear periodically doesn’t help—but there's not a day that goes by that I don't wonder..."

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