New drug limits and then repairs brain damage in stroke

Posted: 30 November 2016 | | 2 comments

A team of scientists found that a potential new stroke drug not only works in rodents by limiting the death of existing brain cells but also by promoting…

A team of scientists at The University of Manchester has now found that a potential new stroke drug not only works in rodents by limiting the death of existing brain cells but also by promoting the birth of new neurones (neurogenesis), helping to repair the damage.


A reduction in blood flow to the brain caused by stroke is a major cause of death and disability, and there are few effective treatments.

This finding provides further support for the development of the anti-inflammatory drug, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), as a new treatment for stroke. The drug is already licensed for use in humans for some conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Several early stage clinical trials in stroke with IL-1Ra have already been completed in Manchester, though it is not yet licensed for this condition.

The researchers show that in rodents with a stroke there is not only reduced brain damage early on after the stroke, but several days later increased numbers of new neurones, when treated with the anti-inflammatory drug IL-1Ra.

Previous attempts to find a drug to prevent brain damage after stroke have proved unsuccessful and this new research offers the possibility of a new treatment.

Importantly, the use of IL-1Ra might be better than other failed drugs in stroke as it not only limits the initial damage, but helps the brain repair itself long-term through the generation of new brain cells.

These cells are thought to help restore function to areas of the brain damaged by the stroke. Earlier work by the same group showed that treatment with IL-1Ra does indeed help rodents regain motor skills that were initially lost after a stroke. Early stage clinical trials in stroke patients also suggest that IL-1Ra could be beneficial.

The current research is led by Professor Stuart Allan, who commented: “The results lend further strong support to the use of IL-1Ra in the treatment of stroke, however further large trials are necessary.”

Funding for the research was provided by the Medical Research Council.

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2 responses to “New drug limits and then repairs brain damage in stroke”

  1. Interesting. If that drug really works – can the drug be injected through a microcatheter distally from the occluding Thrombus ? When we treat acute ischemic stroke by mechanical thrombectomy, we have to pass the Thrombus before introducing the stentretriver (rg solitaire). We normally inject arterial, autologous blood (obtaind from the sheat in the groin), whci we mix with Saline – which is cooled down (Lical superselective hypothermia and austologus blood Transfusion). I this drug ptrotects the cells it might be worth while, to add it to this Cocktail.

    By the way: the Image of the Patient in your article indicateds myocardial inforction – not cerebral infarction….

    Gerhard Schroth
    Professor of Neuroradiology, em.
    Neurologist and Neuroradiologist (FMH)

    Senior Consultant of the
    Neurocentro della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano and the
    University-Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology
    University of Bern, Inselspital
    Freiburgstrasse 4 – Switzerland
    CH-3010 Bern

    phone: ++41 31 632 7890
    mobile: ++41 79 769 45 28
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  2. George Chaldakov says:

    Dear Editor,

    Exciting data of IL-1Ra as an example of anti-inflammatory drugs in stroke therapy. What about another potent anti-inflammatory biologicals, adiponectin?

    Best of further research!
    George Chaldakov

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