New lead for researchers in the race against stroke

Sep 16 2009

The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Stroke Research Group has a new lead in the race against stroke with funding to develop a ‘tissue clock’ that could overturn the time barrier to treatment.

The Greater Building Society has committed $240,000 over three years to fund research to determine a patient’s suitability for stroke treatment by the state of their brain tissue after a stroke rather than time. Researchers will study brain scans from more than 80 Hunter stroke patients with the aim of developing new guidelines for better patient selection.

HMRI Greater Building Society Senior Research Fellow in Stroke Dr Neil Spratt, who is also a John Hunter Hospital Neurologist, said many patients who may be suitable for treatment are currently excluded because they don’t arrive at hospital within the narrow three hour window from when the stroke occurred.

“Using CT perfusion scanning techniques we can identify the extent of brain damage from stroke and the areas that are under threat. As a result, more patients can be identified for treatment outside the three hour window,” Dr Spratt said.

“In time, this research could enable hundreds of thousands of stroke patients worldwide to benefit from brain-saving treatment by overcoming the three hour time barrier,” he said.

“It could also pave the way for better delivery of clot busting treatment to patients in regional areas, as many regional hospitals have CT scanning equipment.”

Greater Building Society Chief Executive Officer Don Magin said business should be supporting medical research because it is an investment in the region and it improves lives of local people.

“This innovative research has the potential to reduce death and disability from stroke in our community, and throughout the world,” Mr Magin said.
HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.