Latest drug has promising potential to reduce deadly brain swelling after stroke

Innovative research based on treating brain damage after stroke has been spearheaded by a team of University of Exeter.

Stroke is generally caused by a blood clot in the brain which can lead to death within minutes. Based on a report from the Stroke Association, two thirds of stroke survivors are diagnosed with a disability. The team further explains that a stroke can damage cell volume regulation in the brain, resulting into swelling. This effect is especially difficult to treat and involves highly invasive surgical procedures. This may also include removing a part of the skull and inserting a shunt of cerebral spinal fluid.

The latest study draws attention to a compound ZT-1a which works as a pathway to control proteins. These act as transporters of ions and water in and out of cells. Researchers explain these work by controlling enzymes that activate proteins which bring too much water into the brain. The key finding of the research indicates that the compound will help to stop brain swelling, thus minimizing the number of cases of brain injury and death.

“Brain swelling after a stroke is a common and devastating problem for individuals and their families. Our discovery could address the urgent need for treatment that could provide an effective alternative to invasive surgery. The drug is still in the laboratory and requires further development. So far it shows promise in effectively reducing brain swelling in stroke, and other brain injuries such as drowning, choking or heart attack,” explained Dr Jinwei Zhang, Lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School.

The new effective way has the potential to provide an alternative to treat brain swelling, for which there are presently limited options.