Stroke Treatment Keeps Brain Cells Alive


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire)— When it comes to a stroke, time is critical. The sooner patients get treatment, the more likely they’ll have a better recovery. The gold standard for stroke treatment is TPA, but it can only be given up to three hours after symptoms begin. Now, doctors are looking at a new drug that puts the brain into hibernation to keep brain cells alive. That can mean the difference between paralysis or walking out of the hospital.

Twenty-nine-year-old Victoria Bernard has a lot to be grateful for.

“I’m just one of those lucky few,” expressed Victoria.

It may not seem like it, but two years ago, Victoria suffered a stroke.

“I had full left-side paralysis and numbness. I could not speak,” Victoria recalled.

Victoria was rushed to the hospital. But she wasn’t given the standard stoke treatment. Instead, Victoria was placed in a trial for a new neuroprotective drug called nerinetide.

“So, most patients, unfortunately, are not eligible for TPA,” shared Eric Sauvageau, MD, a neurosurgeon at Baptist Health of Northeast Florida.

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In fact, only about 30 percent of patients presenting with a stoke arrive at a hospital within three hours to receive TPA. Of the patients who arrive in time, only 40 to 50 percent are medically eligible, but this neuroprotective drug can …

“Keep those cells that are not getting oxygen, that are not getting blood in the brain to be in hibernation, to be able to kind of stay still and not die in the process,” described Dr. Sauvageau.

To prevent further damage until stroke treatment can be issued. Victoria doesn’t know for sure whether she got the drug or a placebo, but she believes she got the drug.

“I was fine in days not weeks,” shared Victoria.

Victoria’s doctor considers her complete recovery amazing.

“He told me ‘if you came into my office and you told me you had had a stroke, I wouldn’t believe you,’” Victoria recalled.

The patients that benefited the most were those who got nerinetide and not TPA. There was no difference in outcomes for the patients that got nerinetide and TPA versus the placebo group. Standard recovery from a stroke may take years. According to the National Stroke Association, only about ten percent of stoke patients recover completely. Twenty-five percent recover with minor impairments and 40 percent experience moderate to severe impairments.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Executive Producer; Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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BACKGROUND: A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain. There are two kinds of stroke a person can experience. An ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage of arteries leading to the brain, and a hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts. When the symptoms of a stroke last less than an hour, it is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini stroke. Strokes can cause sudden weakness, loss of sensation, or difficulty with speaking, seeing, or walking.  It is important to recognize the warning signs of stroke and get immediate medical attention if one occurs.


TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS: The very first thing for healthcare workers to figure out is what kind of stroke a person had. They may perform a CT scan or imaging test upon arriving at the hospital. They will listen to your heart, check your blood pressure, and complete a neurological exam to see how the stroke is affecting the nervous system. Several blood tests will occur to check how fast your blood clots and whether your blood sugar is too high or low. An MRI can detect any damaged brain tissue. Medical personnel may inject a dye into a blood vessel to view the arteries and veins and highlight blood flow. A carotid ultrasound is when sound waves create detailed images of the inside of the carotid arteries in the neck and show buildup of fatty deposits, or plaques. Finally, an echocardiogram uses sound waves to create detailed images of the heart and find a source of clots that may have traveled from the heart to the brain and caused the stroke.


BREAKTHROUGH IN STROKE RESEARCH: The body naturally responds to an injury anywhere in the body by initiating an inflammatory reaction. However, the inflammation can sometimes cause even more damage. “We’re trying to understand how we can harness the immune system’s knowledge about how to repair tissues after they’ve been injured,” says Lauren Sansing, MD, Academic Chief of the Division of Stroke and Vascular Neurology. Her team is working to understand the biological signals guiding the immune response to stroke. That knowledge can direct the development of targeted therapeutics for the treatment of stroke that minimize early injury and enhance recovery. “We want to be able to lead research efforts that change the lives of patients around the world,” says Dr. Sansing.






If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Eric Sauvageau, MD, Co-Director of the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center

Read the entire Q&A