Buying Time for Stroke Victims

New compound lengthens 'treatment window,' researchers say

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WEDNESDAY, Sept. 17, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A compound developed by Northwestern University researchers may widen the "treatment window" for people who suffer a stroke or brain injury.

The study found a single injection of the compound -- given up to six hours after brain injury or stroke -- protects against additional brain cell death for a week or longer.

The study appears in the September online issue of Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters.

When treating a stroke patient, doctors currently have only a three-hour window to prevent additional brain cell damage. And there is only one medication approved to improve blood flow to oxygen-deprived neurons near the affected area of the brain, something that helps minimize the potentially debilitating side effects of stroke or brain injury.

The Northwestern University compound inhibits the activity of an enzyme called death-associated protein kinase (DAPK). This enzyme is known to be an early player in the chain of molecular events that lead to programmed cell death (apoptosis).

Previous research found DAPK levels increase prior to neuron death and that apoptosis increases rapidly hours after the onset of stroke in laboratory models.

"Results of this study support the idea that targeting protein kinases, which function early in programmed cell death pathways, could identify new therapeutic approaches to acute brain injury," study leader Martin Watterson, a professor of molecular pharmacology and biological chemistry, says in a news release.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about stroke.

SOURCE: Northwestern University, news release, Sept. 2, 2003

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