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According to the CDC, stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S. But there may be some hope on the horizon. (photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control’s “Stroke Facts” website).

     Chemical and Engineering News and Michael Torrice recently reported on a novel and promising strategy to help prevent the neurological damage that occurs in many stroke patients. Every year nearly 800,000 Americans experience a stroke, making strokes the leading cause of long term disability in the U.S.  Sadly, 130,000 Americans die of strokes each year.

     Most strokes happen when bleeding in the brain, or intracerebral hemorrhage, occurs.  As the intracerebral hemorrhage progresses, blood cells in the area rupture and release iron-containing  proteins. These proteins can injure brain cells, both directly and indirectly.

     Initially,  iron chelators looked to be a promising agent to mitigate some of this damage. More specifically, chelating agents have the ability to inhibit iron-containing enzymes, or “metalloenzymes.” Normally, metalloenzymes act to add certain chemical groups to gene-regulating proteins in order to regulate the function of those proteins. But, as C&En reports, iron chelators present their own problems and side effects. For example, chelating agents can interfere with normal cell metabolism.

     Because of this, Rajiv Ratan, executive director of Burke Medical Research Institute, and his team looked at 85,000 potential candidates to find other possible molecules that could inhibit metalloenzymes. One of these candidates, dubbed “Adaptaquin,” was found to assist in recovery of normal neurological function in rodent models of intracerebral hemorrhage. The Burke team assessed certain behaviors that are typically impaired by stroke (e.g. motor skills and spatial awareness) in the test rodents. They found that mice and rats that had been given Adaptaquin recovered nearly normal neurological function.

   While there’s no way to know the time required for clinical trials and how long it will ultimately take to bring Adaptaquin to patients, Adaptaquin looks to have a very promising future. For more information about strokes, check the Center for Disease Control’s very informative webpage, under the name “Stroke Facts.”