Feature: Innovative chemical compound 'could improve stroke recovery'

24 February 2012

A new chemical compound could soon be on the market to help people to recover following a stroke.

Following health research, a team of scientists based at the University of Copenhagen have been able to design, produce and patent the treatment for the serious condition.

The chemical compound stands out from other products on the market to help those who have suffered from a stroke, due to the capabilities it has with regard to reducing a patient's brain damage.

In effect, the treatment has been shown to bind 1,000 times more effectively to the target protein in the brain than any other drug on the market.

With the breakthrough, which has been detailed in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the medical industry could be on the verge of putting up a stronger fight against the long-term effects of stroke.

This is because a stroke causes a person's brain to release large amounts of the activating signal compound glutamate at the same time.

Such activity causes receptors located around the nearby healthy tissue of the brain to over-activate, thus causing calcium levels in brain cells to hike dramatically.

After this chain of events has taken place, the end result is that a toxic reaction is set off, which then cause cells to die.

However, scientists believe that the number of cell death cases needs to and can be limited, as such activity holds the key to brain damage in the aftermath of a stroke.

In a promising development regarding this area then, Anders Bach, medicinal chemist and postdoc at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, disclosed: "Research on animal models shows that the new compound we have designed and produced reduces the dead area in the brain after a stroke by 40 per cent."

Furthermore, the animal studies regarding this innovative treatment have shown signs that the chemical compound displays high biological activity and is able to pass through the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier.

Going into further detail regarding this particular finding, Mr Bach said: "Our compound is able to pass through the blood-brain barrier, but also interesting is that it improves motor function in the animals that have been subject to stroke, for example, seen as increased grip strength in the paws of the mice."

Another standout feature of the chemical compound is the fact that it differs from previous drugs which have been developed in order to try and treat stroke patients.

In the past, treatments have focused on attempts to block the receptors for signal compounds in the brain, with the aforementioned glutamate being a key focus of these studies.

In spite of protecting the brain's receptor from the effects of over-activating though, the drugs also affected their normal vital functions and resulted in severe side effects in many cases as a result.

As such, Mr Bach pointed out: "Our research is concentrated on disrupting the interaction between the so-called NMDA receptor and the intracellular protein PSD-95. Other scientists have shown interest in the same area - one group has developed a particularly interesting compound that is currently undergoing clinical development."

The new chemical compound is likely to be welcomed in the UK if shown to be as effective on humans as in animal studies.

This is because, according to The Stroke Association, there are around 150,000 stroke cases reported in the country on an annual basis.

Furthermore, a stroke is still a major health concern, seeing as though there are 53,000 deaths recorded in the UK purely as a result of a stroke.

On top of all this, the condition is the third most common cause of death in England and Wales, behind only heart disease and cancer.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

Health News is provided by Adfero in collaboration with Spire Healthcare. Please note that all copy above is ©Adfero Ltd. and does not reflect views or opinions of Spire Healthcare unless explicitly stated. Additional comments on the page from individual Spire consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other consultants or Spire Healthcare.

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