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The facts

Stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, starving brain cells of oxygen and important nutrients, resulting in impacted areas of the brain dying. The most common cause of stroke is a blood clot obstructing blood flow, known as an ischaemic stroke.

Stroke impacts almost 8-9,0001 New Zealander's each year, plus their families and friends. It can occur without warning at any age, causing a range of disabilities. With a total financial cost to New Zealand of approximately $700 million per year, the burden of stoke is not just physical, with family and friends wearing the greatest financial burden of stroke.

Specialist physicians who treat stroke know all too well that time is brain” — prompt removal of the offending blood clot is associated with best patient outcomes. Unfortunately, due to side effects, around 90 per cent of those who present to hospital with stroke are unable to receive thrombolysis (tPA) says Simone Schoenwaelder, Associate Professor and HRI’s Thrombosis Research Group lead researcher.

Existing stroke treatment

Since its approval for use in 1996, there has only been a single drug available to treat ischaemic stroke (caused by blood clot). The administration of tPA to patients suffering stroke, referred to as "thrombolysis", has a range of side effects, meaning only 10 per cent of stroke sufferers are deemed eligible to receive this treatment.

This leaves 90 per cent of stroke survivors without options.

Patients ineligible to receive tPA either get to the emergency room too late, or are taking other medications that cannot be combined with tPA for fear of causing bleeding in the brain. Even more frustrating for those who receive tPA, successful clot removal occurs in less than 50 per cent, with blood clots reforming in up to 30 per cent of treated patients.

Simone Schoenwaelder
Associate Professor, Thrombosis Research Group

HRI's scientific breakthrough

The Thrombosis Group at HRI is developing a revolutionary new class of anti-clotting drug that could improve the quality of life for thousands of stroke sufferers, when combined with the existing stroke therapies.

Led by Professor Shaun Jackson, the group has confirmed the effectiveness of its drug in pre-clinical laboratory studies, and demonstrated the safety of its drug in healthy humans through Phase I clinical trials. Now, the group is working towards implementing Phase II Clinical trials – testing the effectiveness of its drug on stroke patients.

This means that over the next decade, healthcare professionals in New Zealand – and the world – could have a better treatment for stroke in market.

Our new drug, when combined with existing treatment, not only dissolves the blood clot better, it also reduces the ability of the clot to re-occur. Importantly, it does this without increasing bleeding risk. With the successful completion of Phase II clinical trials, we could proceed to developing our drug commercially.

Simone Schoenwaelder
Associate Professor, Thrombosis Research Group

What can you do to help?

HRI needs just AUD$2 million in funding to realise its ground-breaking research.

Additional funding will help researchers test the new drug’s effectiveness on stroke survivors, moving research into the next phase and closer to increasing stroke survivors’ quality of life. HRI has launched a Donate A Dose, a crowdfunding campaign to help get this research underway. Please donate below to help us develop the new class of clot-busing drug to treat stroke.