After a stroke, the window for drug therapy closes in the first few hours after the attack. To regain lost mobility after that, there’s no medical alternative beyond physical therapy.
Now, a small pharmaceutical company is trying to lengthen that drug-treatable period from hours to months. Perhaps by as much as 6 months. Technology Review reports.
Strokes happen when blood stops flowing to the brain, usually because of a blood clot. Without blood to bring new oxygen, cells in the affected region die. If the person is brought to a hospital within a few hours, doctors can administer a clot-dissolving drug to minimize the damage.
But only a small fraction of stroke patients seek medical attention soon enough for this intervention to work.
In the future, stroke patients who miss this window – and are affected by reduced mobility long after their stroke – may be able to take a drug that helps damaged nerves transmit electrical signals in the brain.
Earlier this year, Acorda Therapeutics reported that the compound dalfampridine improved motor function in both the forelimbs and hind limbs of rats who suffered a stroke.
This month, the company began recruiting patients for a clinical trial to test the effects of the compound in human stroke patients. Acorda plans to enroll about 70 people who have had a stroke at least 6 months prior: the time that deficits seem to stabilize.
Few groups are working on treating the effects of a stroke more than 6 months after it occurred, in part because the disorder is tricky to model in lab animals. Right now, there are no pharmaceutical options.
Acorda was founded in 1995 to treat spinal-cord injuries and has since taken on other neurological conditions, including multiple sclerosis and stroke. The company originally licensed dalfampridine from drugmaker Elan in the hope of using it to treat spinal-cord injuries.
Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability, and the number of people living with its effects is growing. While we’re getting better at preventing stroke death, the incidence is going up because the population is aging.
[Via Technology Review]