After more than 1,000 tries by many scientists, 15 years of work have paid off for a Toronto doctor who has created a drug that could limit brain damage during strokes.
“NA-1” is a neuroprotectant drug created by Dr. Michael Tymianski that can diminish damage caused by reduced blood flow to the brain during a stroke. It has worked in both human and animal studies. The study reporting the success of human trials of the drug, which was discovered in Toronto Western Hospital, was published Sunday in the Lancet Neurology journal. The report of the successful animal testing came earlier this month in Science Translational Medicine.
Stroke is the second most common cause of death and the most likely cause of disability across the world. Tymianski expects the drug to make it to the market in three or four years, but it does have more testing to go through first.
The drug blocks signals created by a protein in the brain that cause cells to die during a stroke. The testing showed a 50 percent reduction of brain damage, even in patients with ruptured brain aneurysms, who are at one of the highest levels of risk for neurological damage.
The concept for this type of drug has been attempted over 1,000 times by different teams, yet Tymianski told Metro News Toronto, “This (human) clinical trial is, to our knowledge, the first time that a drug aimed at increasing the resistance of the brain to a stroke, has been shown to reduce stroke damage in humans.”
Tymianski also hopes the drug will help treat vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. The only drug currently widely available for stroke therapy has serious side effects, including potential bleeding in the brain.