Scientific title:
Repurposing existing compounds for the hyperacute treatment of ischaemic stroke
The University of Warwick
Principal investigator:
Professor Bruno Frenguelli
Grant value:
Research ID:
SA PG 20\100015
Research area:
Start date:
Tuesday 1 June 2021
End date:
Saturday 1 June 2024
3 years
Year awarded:

Why is this research needed?

Stroke happens in the brain, and most often, it’s caused by a blood clot that blocks blood supply. This causes damage to the brain as it no longer gets the vital oxygen and nutrients that it needs to function and survive.  

There are medications to remove the blockage so that normal blood supply can return to the brain. But unfortunately, sometimes they don’t work and not all stroke patients can be treated with these medications. For example, the clot-busting medications currently used must be given to stroke patients in the first few hours after their stroke and sometimes people can’t get to a hospital quick enough.  

Early research has shown that a new medication could save brain cells and reduce damage to the brain by giving it vital supplies of energy. The medications are already used to treat other conditions in humans, so we know they are safe. They can also be given easily in an emergency, before a stroke patient even arrives at the hospital. But we need research to understand how this medication could help save the brain.  

What is the research aiming to do?

This research will test if the new medication can save the brain, and reduce the effects of stroke.  

First, they’ll test it in rats without high blood pressure. Some rats that have a stroke will be given the medication and some won’t. The researchers will compare the two groups to find out if the new medication reduces the amount of damage to the brain. They’ll also look at whether it may have different unintended and harmful effects. 

If this shows the medication can help save the brain and is safe, the researchers will test it in rats with high blood pressure and other conditions, such as atrial fibrillation and high cholesterol. This can increase the likelihood that the medication will work in people that have a stroke, as they often have these other health conditions.  

Finally, they’ll test if the new medication improves blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain, and reduces damage to brain cells in rats that have a stroke. This can help us to understand how it works in the brain. 

How can this research improve the lives of people affected by stroke?

This new medication could dramatically improve treatment for stroke in an emergency to save the brain, and reduce the likelihood of death and disability caused by stroke.

How the new medication works in the brain

The brain needs energy to stay alive. Normally, the brain can use oxygen and nutrients in the blood for energy, but when you have a stroke, this supply is cut off. Your brain no longer has enough energy to keep itself alive. 

The new medication is a mixture of chemicals, including those that are used for energy in brain cells. The researchers hope that by putting more of these chemicals into a stroke patient’s blood, they can increase the amount of energy that gets to the brain, and save brain cells.