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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 02:07 GMT
Damage after stroke 'could be reduced'
The breakthrough treatment could limit the damage caused by strokes
The breakthrough treatment could limit the damage caused by strokes
Scientists have found a way of preventing damage after a stroke by reducing the amount of blood and fluids that leak from damaged cells in the brain.

The Stroke Association welcomed the research, which it said could help achieve the goal of preventing damage after a stroke.

A spokeswoman said the US research, published in Nature Medicine, could help stroke patients in the future if they were assessed and scanned in hospital within hours of their stroke.

"This doesn't prevent strokes, but it would be wonderful if this would prevent damage after a stroke. We welcome anything that helps to do this."

Damage

When a stroke occurs a loss of oxygen to the brain kills cells - damage that cannot be repaired.

But blood cells near the damaged tissue leak blood and fluid, causing an oedema, a swelling on the brain, which then causes further damage.

A US research team, led by Dr David Cheresh, have found a drug which can inhibit the blood and fluid leaking, and therefore prevent much of the damage to cells.

Dr Cheresh, from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, told BBC News Online that the damage caused by the oedema was a lot greater than that caused by the initial death of cells.

The researchers identified a molecule in the blood vessels, which is only produced when oxygen flow is reduced - but which also leaks blood and fluid to produce the oedema.

Key enzyme

The scientists also found a key enzyme which affected the "leakiness", of the vessels, which causes the extra damage.

In tests, mice which lacked the enzyme had no leakiness and therefore minimal brain damage after a stroke compared to mice who had the enzyme.

The researchers then used a drug being developed to restrict the growth of cancers, called PP1, to inhibit the production of the enzyme.

When normal mice were given the drug up to six hours after a stroke, up to six hours afterwards, the scientists were able to limit longer term brain damage.

Dr Cheresh said: "This drug could be given up to six hours after a stroke, This, we think gives enough of a window to be a real viable therapy."


This drug could be given up to six hours after a stroke. This, we think gives enough of a window to be a real viable therapy

David Cheresh
Researcher
He added that the team now want to develop the treatment to target it at the specific form of the enzyme in the blood vessels in the brain.

There are a 100,000 cases of stroke in the UK every year.

Depending what part of the brain is affected by stroke, a person can be left with affected speech, movement or vision.

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