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Cedars-Sinai announces stroke research program


Cedars-Sinai will be the coordinating center for a multi-center stroke research program that’s billed as the first of its kind in the United States.

The National Institutes of Health-funded program will assess the effectiveness of (NIH) a half-dozen potential therapies for stroke. The researchers will also investigate “whether applying higher standards of rigor to pre-clinical research’’ could produce results that are more likely to succeed in human clinical trials, according to Cedars-Sinai.

“We will tackle the most important question today in treating strokes: How do we find new, potentially effective treatments efficiently and effectively?” said Dr. Patrick Lyden, a Cedars-Sinai neurology professor who will lead the program, dubbed the Stroke Pre-clinical Assessment Network (SPAN).

Current treatments aim to remove stroke-causing blood clots either by dissolving them or extracting them surgically. Pre-clinical studies in laboratory mice and rats have indicated there are several therapies that could potentially help to protect the brain during those treatments and help patients recover better, but it’s not known whether any of those therapies could work in humans.

“While we’ve made lot of progress in helping patients recover from ischemic strokes, studies in the lab suggest we can do more,” Lyden said. “Over the years, several labs have shown that therapies used for other diseases could also be repurposed to help patients recover from an ischemic stroke attack.”

Francesca Bosetti, program director of the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said recent studies have shown that promising pre-clinical ideas often cannot be replicated in other labs or fail when researchers try to test them or translate them into treatments for humans.

SPAN “will use clinical-trial practices and standards to search for the neuroprotective stroke therapies that have the greatest potential for working in humans,” she said.

In addition to Cedars-Sinai, medical centers participating in the study include University of Texas Health Center, Houston; Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Augusta University, Georgia; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; University of Iowa, Iowa City; and Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven.

According to a statement released by Cedars-Sinai, each lab taking part in the program will submit a plan for a proposed treatment for stroke, which could be a surgical procedure or a medication. The other participating laboratories will then test the effectiveness of the potential treatments.

“Effectiveness is measured by how well the therapy does in protecting the brain during clot removal after an ischemic stroke,’’ according to the Cedars statement. “Some of these therapies have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating other diseases, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.’’

The results will help investigators decide whether any of the therapies should be examined with Phase II human clinical trials, with the ultimate goal of translating the results of the studies into therapies that can help patients make a faster recovery.

“At Cedars-Sinai, we’re committed to looking for ways to improve patient care,” said Dr. Nancy L. Sicotte, chair of the Department of Neurology. “This program will look beyond the current standard of care to see if we can find ways to help patients get back to normal after a stroke.”