In India alone there are more than 1.6 million people suffering from Ischemic Stroke or Cerebral Stroke every year. This is a staggering number of cases which now has promise of not only having a new treatment due to lessen the damage done by the blocked blood flow to the brain but also coming with a promise of enhancing the recovery of the damage done by promoting the growth of new brain cells in the damaged part of the organ.
Now let’s take a look on what is an Ischemic or Cerebral stroke?
Researchers at the University of Manchester have done an extensive study (which is now an open paper and published on ScienceDirect) on an already FDA approved medicine known as the IL-1Ra or commonly as Anakinra (Kineret) which shows that it not only stops the extensive damage that happens due to the shortage of blood supply to the brain but also provides active neurogenesis/repairs to the damaged part of the brain. This medicine is approved for use in Rheumatoid Arthritis and has a very small side-effects profile. The research was carried out on rats which were in induced ischemic stroke and showed signs of elevated recovery post administration of IL-1Ra.
In the research, published in the biomedical journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, the researchers show that in rodents with a stroke there is not only reduced brain damage early on after the stroke, but several days later increased numbers of new neurones, when treated with the anti-inflammatory drug IL-1Ra.
Previous attempts to find a drug to prevent brain damage after stroke have proved unsuccessful and this new research offers the possibility of a new treatment.
Importantly, the use of IL-1Ra might be better than other failed drugs in stroke as it not only limits the initial damage to brain cells, but also helps the brain repair itself long-term through the generation of new brain cells.
The results lend further strong support to the use of IL-1Ra in the treatment of stroke, however further large trials are necessary
These new cells are thought to help restore function to areas of the brain damaged by the stroke. Earlier work by the same group showed that treatment with IL-1Ra does indeed help rodents regain motor skills that were initially lost after a stroke. Early stage clinical trials in stroke patients also suggest that IL-1Ra could be beneficial.
The current research is led by Professor Stuart Allan, who commented: “The results lend further strong support to the use of IL-1Ra in the treatment of stroke, however further large trials are necessary.”
The paper, ‘Reparative effects of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist in young and aged/co-morbid rodents after cerebral ischemia’, was published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.11.013
Funding for the research was provided by the Medical Research Council.