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'Bat saliva' drug and new MRI techniques offer hope for acute stroke treatment

MADISON - The use of a synthetic drug derived from the saliva of vampire bats appears to extend the time window for treatment of acute ischemic strokes from the current three to nine hours after symptoms first appear, according to the results of a new international study.

The results of the DIAS trial (Desmoteplase in Acute ischemic Stroke), to be presented Feb. 5 at the International Stroke Conference in San Diego, show that the drug desmoteplase is effective in preventing brain damage from stroke if administered between three and nine hours after symptoms begin. The University of Wisconsin Medical School is one of the test sites for the ongoing twin U.S. study, DEDAS (Dose Escalation study of Desmoteplase in Acute ischemic Stroke), designed to identify the appropriate dosage and effectiveness of the drug.

Howard Rowley, associate professor of radiology at the UW Medical School, is the lead radiologist for the DEDAS study nationally and a member of the UW team researching it on patients in Madison. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings of the study will be presented by Steven Warach, director of stroke at the National Institutes of Health. George Newman, professor of neurology, and Ross Levine, associate professor of neurology, are the primary UW investigators on the study.

"This new approach to acute stroke treatment is novel in two ways: It uses an improved clot-dissolving drug, and also takes advantage of new MRI techniques to help select the right patients for treatment," says Rowley. "The results of the DIAS study are even more exciting as they show specifically how the use of the drug significantly extends the time during which treatment can begin after the onset of stroke symptoms, from three hours to nine hours."

Desmoteplase is a genetically engineered version of a blood clot-dissolving protein from the saliva of the vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus. Desmoteplase is able to dissolve a blood clot without affecting the re
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Contact: Teri Shore
608-263-3466
University of Wisconsin-Madison
5-Feb-2004


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