In Canada, stroke is the third-leading cause of death, after cancer and heart disease, striking down more than 13,000 people each year and leaving thousands with life-changing disabilities.
In 2012, the World Health Organization reported that strokes killed 6.7 million people worldwide.
And yet, with more than 1,000 drugs tested in preclinical models, with more than 200 drugs tested in human trials and with billions spent by multinational pharmaceutical companies, a drug to mitigate the effects of stroke remains elusive.
Only the clot-busting medication, tPA, is currently approved – but under highly restricted conditions. But that could be old news soon.
Since 2002, Dr. Michael Tymianski, head of the Division of Neurosurgery at University Health Network and a senior scientist at the Krembil Research Institute, who also holds the Harold & Esther Halpern Chair in Neurosurgical Stroke Research and the Chair in Innovations for the Head of Division of Neurosurgery, has been testing the drug he has named NA-1.
In ongoing human trials, the drug has reduced the amount of brain damage incurred during a stroke by about half, without serious side effects.
“We already have data to show that the drug is effective,” Dr. Tymianski says. “I’ve seen it work in lab models and in people.”