Investigating more effective stroke treatment 

23/05/2016 00:00 
UCLH is planning to study a new way of making the treatment of stroke more effective by ensuring that drugs are delivered to their site of action faster.

Magnetically enhanced diffusion (MED) is the treatment currently under investigation. UCLH is taking a leading role in the next phase, which will take place across several UK hospitals.  For strokes that are caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain, MED may give clot-busting drugs better access to the blood clot responsible.

Injecting microscopic magnetic beads into the blood of stroke victims could transform treatment, as thrombolysis relies on the drug being delivered to the site of the blockage in the bloodstream but the clot can reduce the speed of the circulation.

The microbeads are injected through a vein in the arm, immediately after the patient has been given the blood-thinning drug, also injected into the arm.

A device containing a fast-rotating magnet is then placed next to the patient’s head and the magnetic force created helps propel the drugs along the blocked vessels to break down the life-threatening clot.

Once they have done their job, the beads are naturally absorbed then secreted.

Consultant neurologist Dr Richard Perry said: “For most stroke patients, the only treatment that can reduce the disability from their stroke is thrombolysis.

“Although it is important to deliver this treatment to stroke patients where possible, most patients who receive the treatment into a vein do not derive a clear benefit, and if the stroke is caused by a blockage in a large artery the proportion is particularly low.

“While directly pulling the clot out – thrombectomy – improves results considerably, there are very few centres where this treatment can be offered, and even in the UK most patients will not benefit from this.

“One important reason for the low success rate of the intravenous clot-busting drug is likely to be poor penetration of the thrombolytic drug to the clot that needs to be dissolved.

“The approach of using iron microbeads to stir the blood and improve access of the clot-busting drug to the clot is exciting and innovative and we are eager to test the therapy in stroke patients.”

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