'Holy Grail' technique in treating stroke patients

MRI scan of brain The Gold technique uses MRI scans of a stroke patient's brain

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Researchers in Glasgow are pioneering a new treatment which could help save at-risk brain tissue in stroke patients.

It uses oxygen, oxygen-carrying drugs and MRI scans to identify the penumbra - viable tissue surrounding the dead area in the brain caused by a stroke.

Oxygen is then delivered to the tissue - helping protect brain function.

Current clot buster drugs are only viable for 4.5 hours after a stroke. The new approach, described as a "Holy Grail", allows treatment for 48 hours.

The technique - Glasgow Oxygen Level Dependent (Gold) - has been developed by a team from Glasgow's Southern General neuro radiology department, department of clinical physics and Glasgow University.

Neuroradiologist Dr Celestine Santosh said it could revolutionise the way stroke patients are diagnosed and treated.

'Valuable time'

He said: "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.

Start Quote

We realise this is a unique project which has the possibility to change the way we diagnose and treat stroke”

End Quote Dr Celestine Santosh Neuroradiologist

"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.

"Therefore accurately identifying the penumbra is really the Holy Grail in stroke."

The Gold approach uses an MRI scanner, oxygen-carrying perflourocarbon (PFC) and oxygen to identify the penumbra.

Dr Santosh said that by efficiently delivering oxygen with the PFC to the penumbra tissue that has been starved of oxygen, it offers a degree of neuro protection.

The Glasgow team aims to begin starting the first human stroke trials in 2015.

Dr Santosh added: "This is the newest thing on the horizon for stroke care and it has been achieved within a relatively small budget.

"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."

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