Scots doctors pioneer for new stroke treatment


DOCTORS in Scotland are campaigning for a new initiative to treat stroke patients.

The new initiative aims to discover when the patient actually suffered their attack which is one of the main concerns of a sufferer when first arriving in hospital.

This new method gives doctors four and a half hours to administer the treatment to the patient which could help prevent further clotting. However, if the drug is given out-with this time the patient may suffer from harmful effects associated with the procedure.

Dr Celestine Santosh, a neuro-radiologist at Glasgow Southern General hospital is in charge of running this new approach.

The new stroke test will improvement patient's recovery prospects
The new stroke test will improvement patients’ recovery prospects Pic: Dr C Grefkes, Uniklinik Koln

The development will allow for patients who can have the procedure to be identified.

The treatment also acts as a therapy for stroke patients helping to reduce the disabilities caused by strokes.

The Glasgow Oxygen Level Dependent (Gold) Technique works by combining a MRI scan with the inhaling of oxygen through a mask. The doctor can then see what is happening to the oxygen in the brain from the scan and determines how much tissue is still alive and recoverable and what is not.

The area of tissue that could be saved from this treatment is the penumbra which if still recoverable means the patient would be eligible for the procedure.

The penumbra consists of tissues that surround the dead area in the brain after a stroke and if not treated, these tissues could die.

Dr Santosh explained: “Currently every clinician is treating acute stroke with clot buster drugs while always watching the clock as this treatment is only licensed for use up to 4.5 hours after stroke.

“This obviously has major limitations as one third of all stroke patients don’t know the time of their onset of symptoms. However, research shows that the penumbra can stay viable up to 48 hours after a stroke so it gives us more, much needed, valuable time to treat the patient.”

To help during testing, researchers are proposing to inject patients with a drug used to hold oxygen for a long period of time.

The introduction of the perflourcarbons drug will ensure that the patient’s brain is holding as much oxygen as possible during the scan.

Perflourcarbons are tiny red cells which carry oxygen to the brain through very small channels avoiding potential blockages caused by strokes.

Dr Santosh has backed the usage of this drug during the treatment as it allows for scanning of the penumbra to be done more efficiently but also lowers the levels of oxygen deprivation in the brain.

The team working with Dr Santosh including fellow Glasgow Southern General colleagues and staff at Glasgow University are pioneering for trials of this treatment to begin at the end of next year.

The team have also been working with an American company using their PFC “oxygen carrier” which has already undergone human stage 1 trials.

Dr Santosh added: “We realise this is a unique project which has the possibility to change the way we diagnose and treat stroke. If it works here, there are also other conditions we can begin to look at using this treatment for including cardiac and cancer.”