New research into clot-busting drug treatment that could offer better stroke outcomes

Published: Thursday 26 February 2015

Promising research results for a new drug treatment for ischaemic stroke patients have been published today in the journal ‘Lancet Neurology’.

A new drug treatment, Tenecteplase, has shown to have similar outcomes in limiting the damage in the brain after a stroke compared with current treatments. Crucially, it is also far easier to administer and may also be safer.

Ischaemic strokes are caused by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain and are treated by injecting ‘clot-busting’ drugs that dissolve the blood clot, restoring blood flow. There is a crucial 4.5-hour window after an ischaemic stroke in which a clot-busting drug treatment is effective in limiting damage and improving outcome.

Only one drug, Alteplase, is currently used for acute treatment of stroke. The study, led by Professor Keith Muir, SINAPSE Chair of Clinical Imaging and Consultant Neurologist at the University of Glasgow, compared Alteplase with a newer clot-busting drug called Tenecteplase.

The study, funded by us, showed that incidences of serious adverse events did not differ between the two groups and all neurological and radiological outcomes were similar, despite by chance there being slightly more very severe strokes in the Tenecteplase group. The results also revealed that potentially fewer people had a brain haemorrhage as a complication of treatment with Tenecteplase.

Researchers believe that, as Tenecteplase can be given more easily than Alteplase, it could become a less expensive and easier to administer treatment for ischaemic stroke patients. A larger clinical trial will be needed in to test Tenecteplase fully, and plans for such a trial are at an advanced stage.

Professor Muir said: “Every minute is crucial in treating stroke and we need better treatment options. Any treatment that's easier to deliver and potentially safer could mean the difference between a good recovery and someone suffering seriously debilitating long-term effects. We are planning a larger scale trial to investigate these results further.”

Dr Dale Webb, Director of Research and Information at the Stroke Association, said: “The brain damage caused by a stroke can leave people facing a devastating level of disability. Currently, our only tool to treat ischaemic stroke is thrombolysis. This type of treatment benefits around one in seven people treated. There is only one drug licensed for thrombolysis, which is Alteplase.

“This important research investigating an alternative to Alteplase could pave the way for an improvement in thrombolysis. A more effective way to deliver clot-busting treatment to stroke patients could be life-changing. When stroke strikes, time saved is brain saved.”

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