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Neurosciences Institute Discovers Drug Extends Stroke Treatment Time to 24 Hours, Repairs Brain Tissue
Date:9/1/2008

Could Be Life-Changing for Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, Alzheimer's

Patients

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Scientists at the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute (BRNI) have discovered that Bryostatin -- and a related class of drugs discovered at BRNI -- administered 24 hours after stroke can rescue and repair brain tissue. These findings are markedly advanced compared to current stroke treatments that must be administered within three hours and are unable to repair damaged brain tissue.

In an article to be published in the September 3 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), BRNI Scientific Director and Toyota Chair Daniel Alkon, M.D. and Professor Miao-Kun Sun, PhD describe how this Alzheimer's candidate drug repairs the brain and improves memory.

"Today's stroke patient has precious minutes to receive care without suffering irreversible damage or death. One of the greatest challenges in modern medical practice is finding an effective treatment that extends that treatment time and repairs damage," said BRNI Scientific Director Daniel Alkon, M.D. "Bryostatin could be an answer."

Bryostatin could be life changing for millions of Americans who suffer neurological conditions -- from Alzheimer's disease to stroke. Each year in the United States, there are more than 780,000 strokes. It is the third leading cause of death in the country and the most common cause of long-term disability in developed countries. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65 and the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.

"We're facing an aging Babyboomer population, an influx of 55-plus Americans, and treatment that is less time-restrictive and able to repair the brain if a stroke destroys tissue is urgently needed," said Alkon.

How Bryostatin Works

Stroke symptoms typically develop rapidly -- within seconds to minutes -- and as oxygen becomes depleted in the brain tissue, cells die. This means that hundreds of thousands of neurons -- each linked to thousands of connections -- die. In animal testing, Bryostatin completely rescues these dying neurons, stimulates the growth of new connections and restores memory capacity. Additionally, the drug can be administered up to 24 hours following a stroke, increasing the number of patients it could potentially save.

This drug, suggests Alkon, offers potential to prevent and/or reverse brain degeneration not just in stroke victims, but also Alzheimer's disease and traumatic brain injury.

Previous studies had also shown Bryostatin's ability to accelerate the generation of new connections in the brain when paired with learning exercises. According to Alkon, this could eventually lead to new treatment therapies for children with compromised memory activity. BRNI is in discussion with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin clinical trials of the drug.

About BRNI

BRNI is the world's only non-profit institute dedicated to the study of both human memory and diseases of memory. Its primary mission is to accelerate the transfer of neurological discoveries from the lab to the doctor's office where it can benefit patients who suffer from neurological and psychiatric diseases.

BRNI is operated in alliance with West Virginia University in Morgantown as well as in collaboration with other academic institutions such as Johns Hopkins University. West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller founded the Institute in memory of his mother, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, who died of Alzheimer's disease.


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SOURCE Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute
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