Appoptosin is a protein that is known for prompting neurons to kill themselves. Following a traumatic brain injury, appoptosin skyrockets, leading to an overproduction of chemicals that can cause neurons to die. This cascade of neural suicide is a marker for secondary traumatic brain injury, and leads to increase cognitive and motor impairments.
A team of researchers recently found a way to inhibit appoptosin, resulting in fewer neural deaths after injury. In addition to treating traumatic brain injury, the inhibition of appoptosin could also lead to reversal of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. However, the balance of appoptosin is tricky-the brain needs just enough to keep things operating normally, and inhibiting too much might cause anemia.
Zhang H, Zhang YW, Chen W, et al. Appoptosin is a novel pro-apoptotic protein and mediates cell death in neurodegeneration. Journal of Neuroscience. (November 2012).