New stroke treatments becoming a reality
Scientists led by the President of The University of Manchester have demonstrated a drug which can dramatically limit the amount of brain damage in stroke patients.
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, Professor Stuart Allan and their team have spent the last 20 years investigating how to reduce damage to the brain following a stroke.
They have been testing the effectiveness of the drug Anakinra (IL-1Ra), which is already used for rheumatoid arthritis in experimental studies of stroke.
This new study builds on previous research, although the big difference is that rats with stroke risk factors such as obesity, insulin resistance and atherosclerosis were used alongside healthy rats and older ones. It means the findings have a far greater chance of being replicated in human stroke patients.
Researchers induced a stroke in the rats and the drug IL-1Ra, or a placebo for comparison, was injected under the skin. The researchers did not know which animals had been given which drug. This is a similar process to what happens in clinical trials of medicines.
The results were startling. MRI scans revealed that the rats that were given IL-1Ra up to three hours after the stroke had only about half the brain damage of the placebo group.
Professor Rothwell said: “This is the first time that we are aware of a potential new treatment for stroke being tested in animals with the same sort of diseases and risk factors that most patients have. The results are very promising and we hope to undertake further clinical studies in stroke patients soon.”
IL-1Ra works by blocking the naturally occurring protein interleukin 1. Researchers at The University of Manchester have identified that it is a key cause of brain injury following a stroke.
More at the University of Manchester release