Clot busting drug could improve stroke treatment

May 29th, 2011 - 1:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 29 (IANS) A new clot busting drug seems to improve the prospect of recovery for stroke victims.

The new treatment combines minimally invasive surgery, a brain imaging technique and a clot-busting drug ‘t-PA’, according to a multi-centre clinical trial led by Johns Hopkins researchers.

The novel treatment was developed for patients with intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH), a bleed in the brain that causes a clot to form within brain tissue, which can cause irreversible brain damage, often leading to death or extreme disability.

The usual treatments for ICH - either general supportive care such as blood pressure control and ventilation, or invasive surgeries that involve taking off portions of the skull to remove the clot - have similar mortality rates, ranging from 30 to 80 percent depending on the size of the clot.

Daniel Hanley, professor of neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues developed and tested the new treatment on 60 ICH patients at 12 hospitals in US, Canada, Britain and Germany, according to a Johns Hopkins statement.

They compared their results to those of 11 patients who received only supportive care. After neurologists diagnosed ICH patients at these hospitals, surgeons drilled dime-sized holes in patients’ skulls close to the clot location.

Using high-tech neuro-navigational software that provides detailed brain images, the physicians threaded tubes through the holes and directly into the clots. They used these tubes to drip t-PA into the clot for up to three days in two doses, every eight hours.

They found that clot size in patients treated with either dose shrunk by more than half, compared to only one percent in patients who received only supportive care.

Those in the treatment group and the supportive care group had about a 10 percent mortality rate at 30 days after treatment, lower than the typically high mortality rates expected for this condition.

These findings were given in detail for the first time at the European Stroke Conference in Hamburg.

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