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Assoc Prof Simone Schoenwaelder gave an update on exciting advancements in stroke research at the Heart Research Institute (HRI) that could dramatically improve clinical outcomes for patients in Open Access Government.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide.

Six­teen mil­lion peo­ple will suf­fer strokes annu­al­ly, includ­ing 50,000 in Aus­tralia alone.

Approximately 85 per cent of strokes are ischaemic, caused by a blood clot blocking an artery within the brain, which reduces blood flow to the brain. If not resolved within a few hours, irreversible brain damage can occur.

Despite decades of research, there is currently only one emergency drug treatment, tPA, that can dissolve the dangerous blood clots in ischaemic stroke. Unfortunately, tPA can be used for only 10 per cent of stroke victims, leaving up to 90 per cent to suffer the devastating impacts of stroke. tPA also has many limitations and does not work effectively in many stroke patients.

There is a significant unmet clinical need to identify new anticlotting approaches that can improve tPA function and reduce stroke injury – a challenge that the Thrombosis Group at HRI, led by Prof Shaun Jackson, is addressing.

Assoc Prof Schoenwaelder’s update reveals that the new anti-clotting drug that the Thrombosis team has developed is commencing Phase II clinical trials in humans. The team has already demonstrated in preclinical models that when combining this revolutionary new class of anti-clotting drug with existing stroke therapies, blood flow to the brain can improve and thus reduce/prevent brain injury.

This dis­cov­ery could be a game chang­er in advanc­ing the tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of treat­ing ischaemic stroke and improv­ing the qual­i­ty of life for thou­sands of stroke suf­fer­ers,” says Assoc Prof Schoenwaelder.

The team has also developed a fluorescence macroscope imaging system, with the support of generous donors to HRI, that has allowed them to learn more about the complications of current therapies and ultimately inform the development of new treatments to save more lives.

Header image: Assoc Prof Simone Schoenwaelder

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