News release: Heart & Stroke encouraged by study about new drug that protects the brain after stroke

International study reveals potential new drug treatment for stroke patients

(Toronto) – Heart & Stroke is calling the results of an international study led by the University of Calgary into the neuroprotective drug nerinetide, a promising development in the treatment of stroke. Neuroprotective drugs work to safeguard the brain against the damaging effects of a stroke.

The findings, shared today at the International Stroke Congress in Los Angeles, are described as a potential breakthrough. Clinical trials showed that almost 20 per cent more patients who received nerinetide along with endovascular treatment (EVT), but did not receive alteplase (a clot-busting drug), had improved outcomes following a stroke.

“These are significant and interesting findings, and we look forward to further understanding the results of this trial and the potential of the drug as a neuroprotectant,” said Dr. Patrice Lindsay, Heart & Stroke’s director of systems change and stroke program.

The study, published today in the Lancet, was led by Dr. Michael Hill and Dr. Mayank Goyal at the Foothills Medical Centre (FMC) in Calgary.  It shows promise for stroke patients as it identifies a potential new drug treatment for ischemic stroke patients who also have EVT, a procedure where a retrievable stent is used to physically remove clots.  Ischemic strokes are caused by a blockage or clot in a blood vessel in the brain which can occur when plaque builds up on the inside wall of an artery.

During a stroke, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute. Nerinetide works to reduce the number of brain cells that die initially, until a more definitive treatment is available such as EVT. More than 62,000 strokes occur every year in Canada, and more than 11,000 people die. Eighty-five per cent of strokes are ischemic and 15 per cent are hemorrhagic.

Heart & Stroke funded the clinical trial work of six of the Canadian site principal investigators, all stroke neurologists across major hospitals in Canada, and contributed to the early development stages of nerinetide.  “It’s encouraging to see Heart & Stroke’s funding support tangible results in the treatment of stroke, the third leading cause of death in Canada and a leading cause of adult disability,” said Lindsay.  “It is still early days as nerinetide is not approved for use outside clinical trials, and we need more evidence that compares these outcomes to other treatment options,” she added.

In addition to funding research, Heart & Stroke has worked closely with all provinces over the past decade to optimize systems of stroke care, including recognition of the FAST signs of stroke, leading Canadian Stroke Best Practices Recommendations, and providing key tools to enable better coordination, data monitoring and reporting, and quality improvement initiatives to ensure best patient outcomes.

For more information:

Teresa Roncon
Sr. Manager, Communications
416-489-7111, x. 23060

About Heart & Stroke

Life. We don’t want you to miss it. That’s why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. We must generate the next medical breakthroughs, so people in Canada don’t miss out on precious moments. Together, we are working to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery through research, health promotion and public policy.