The only recognised treatment available to anyone suffering a stroke, is a life-saving drug known as tPA (tissue Plasminogen Activator). If administered within a few hours of the stroke occurring, it benefits 80% of patients by dissolving the clot that caused the damage. That the good news.
The flip side is that the use of tPA also dissolves a protective barrier along with the clot, allowing white blood cells to flood in and cause inflammation, which itself can cause severe brain damage to the patient.
With the invaluable help and long-term commitment of supporters like you, scientists at The Heart Research Institute are working on what would be a 'World First' breakthrough. They believe they’ve uncovered a therapy that will boost the benefits of tPA, while blocking the harmful side-effect, thereby offering vastly improved protection to stroke victims.
Stroke survivor Ross Waldron was just 29 when he suffered a stroke.
Ross was given tPA, which dissolved the clot and assured his survival... but it also triggered parallel inflammation, which was damaging in its own way. "The left side of my brain was so swollen that it pushed the right side 8 millimetres across," says Ross. "I still can’t feel much on the right side of my body at all... and I still have trouble with fine motor skills in my right hand. But I’m alive, even though I can no longer follow my career as a musician."
Professor Shaun Jackson and his team in The HRI’s Thrombosis Group have discovered how the dark side of tPA operates and are currently developing a new blocking therapy to be given to patients alongside tPA. This would stop the blood cells from rushing in and causing the inflammation that affected Ross. If successful, this new blocking therapy will dramatically improve outcomes for patients and could even extend the window of time in which stroke patients can be treated... meaning more stroke victims would survive.
This ground-breaking research underlines just how vital your long-term support is for heart research. While current research results are extremely positive, it will still be another 4 to 5 years before a large scale clinical trial is possible. That’s how long these things take. But if successful, the world will have a new therapy that stops inflammation to the brain, preventing injury and saving lives.
This is the vital work your support is making possible.
Thank you again for everything you do to help us save lives. This type of research could quite simply not happen without you.
Professor Clare Hawkins
Scientific Director, The Heart Research Institute