Neuroprotective treatment for stroke patients proving promising

27 February 2020

MSWA is proud to once again contribute funding to the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science in 2020. $85 000 has been provided by MSWA to the Institute to support their studies into a potential neuroprotective treatment for people following a stroke.

Further study and clinical trials are required but encouraging pre-clinical results suggest a novel peptide R18 could reduce stroke damage by up to 70 per cent if administered early.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Each year, some 56,000 Australians will suffer new or recurrent strokes. That’s one stroke every nine minutes. Its burden on society is increasing as the population ages, a dire situation exacerbated by the ongoing diabetes and obesity epidemics. The annual economic impact of stroke to the Australian economy is estimated to be $5 billion, including $3 billion in lost productivity.

Adjunct Associate Professor Bruno Meloni, Head of Stroke Laboratory Research at the Perron Institute, is leading this research along with Clinical Professor Neville Knuckey, Head of Stroke Research. With their team, they have used MSWA funding, along with other grants and philanthropic support, to assess the effectiveness of a peptide named R18 in pre-clinical models.

Previous studies by the Perron Institute’s stroke research team showed R18 had the potential to reduce brain damage after stroke and these promising results needed to be confirmed via further studies.

The team is looking at the most common type of stroke, ischaemic, which occurs when blood clots block arteries supplying the brain. The subsequent interruption of blood supply and lack of oxygen leads to death of brain cells resulting in loss of function. The R18 peptide, discovered by the Perron Institute team in 2012, has some special properties that enable it to inhibit these effects and other damaging events after stroke.

“Without any treatment, most of the brain damage occurs within three to four hours of a stroke. Our drug has the potential to protect the brain when given soon after onset,” said Adjunct Associate Professor Bruno Meloni.

MSWA CEO Marcus Stafford AM said he was pleased to be part of this important research study with the Perron Institute. This project forms part of MSWA’s $3.5m contribution to research which was allocated for the 2019-2020 financial year.

“These results are a big step forward in the development of R18 as a neuroprotective therapy for stroke. While we acknowledge more study is needed in this area, we are extremely pleased with the results so far which show promising signs for the future treatment of stroke,” said Mr Stafford.

The group’s latest data substantiates and extends earlier results showing the R18 peptide’s neuroprotective properties.

The promising potential of this easy to administer therapy is it could be given by ambulance paramedics before reaching hospital. Early treatment could help to minimise brain tissue damage. It could also dramatically improve patient outcomes by extending the time window for clot dissolving treatment of someone having a stroke, or removal of the clot via a catheter. Early intervention with the peptide could be particularly beneficial for people in rural and remote areas before transportation to a metropolitan hospital.

Like all experimental drug development, additional safety and toxicity studies are required, followed by clinical trials, to confirm if R18 will be safe and effective.

For more information about MSWA funded research projects, head to our research page.