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Coma Research Study Seeks Volunteers

Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI), the research arm of MossRehab,
is seeking volunteers from throughout the country in a new research study
to investigate how the sleep drug zolpidem (Ambian) might restore consciousness for patients in the vegetative state.

After severe brain injury, some patients remain permanently unconscious, a
condition know as the vegetative state, for which no proven treatment exists.
However, there are studies that suggest that the common sleep
aid zolpidem (originally marketed as Ambien but now available generically) can
restore consciousness to patients who have been in this state for several years.

According to researchers at Moss, Dr. Whyte and his team initially conducted a small pilot study, based on reports of "miraculous" results among patients with prolonged unconsciousness. In the study of 15 individuals was a male patient in his 20`s, who had been rendered unconscious as a result of a car accident four years earlier. The patient could open and close his eyes and move his limbs, but he showed no real awareness of things around him and only stared vacantly. In the pilot study, Dr. Whyte and his team administered zolpidem to this patient, with excellent results: after a single dose of the drug, but not after an identical appearing placebo, the patient was able to respond to commands to move his leg, and was observed to follow other people`s movements with his eyes and even wave goodbye. (The other participants showed no such effects.)

Based on this success, the new MRRI study, which is federally funded, will be
conducted over three years and seeks to enroll about 100 patients, from all over
the country, who are in a vegetative or minimally conscious state due to brain
injury. The study will examine not just how many people respond to the drug but
why the drug has such a dramatic effect on some patients but not others and just
how the drug is working.

The study is actively seeking participants; those interested in possibly
enrolling a patient or obtaining more information should contact Moss
Rehabilitation Research Institute at 215-663-6872 or  by email 



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