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Experimental drug may extend therapeutic window for stroke
Date:7/17/2012

LOS ANGELES A team led by a physician-scientist at the University of Southern California (USC) has created an experimental drug that reduces brain damage and improves motor skills among stroke-afflicted rodents when given with federally approved clot-busting therapy.

Clinical trials to test the safety of the drug in people are expected to start later this summer.

Stroke, which occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops, is the No. 4 cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States. According to the American Stroke Association, the Food and Drug Administration-approved tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) is the best treatment for stroke caused by a blocked artery, but to be effective, it must be administered within three hours after symptoms start. If given outside that three-hour window, tPA has shown serious side effects in animal and human brains, including bleeding and breakdown of the brain's protective barrier.

Generally, according to the American Stroke Association, only 3 to 5 percent of those who suffer a stroke reach the hospital in time to be considered for tPA treatment.

"What tPA does best is to break down clots in the blood vessel and restore blood flow, but it is a powerful enzyme," said Berislav V. Zlokovic, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the study's lead investigator. "After three hours, tPA also damages the blood vessel and causes intracerebral bleeding. We have developed something that not only counteracts the bleeding but also reduces brain damage and significantly improves behavior after stroke. I feel very strongly that this approach will extend the therapeutic window for tPA."

Zlokovic is the scientific founder of ZZ Biotech, a Houston-based biotechnology company he co-founded with USC benefactor Selim Zilkha to develop biological treatments for stroke and other neurological ailments. The
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Contact: Alison Trinidad
alison.trinidad@usc.edu
323-442-3941
University of Southern California - Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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