New stroke drug could lengthen window to get treatment

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- When a person has a stroke getting treatment within hours is crucial. But now, local researchers are studying a new drug that could change the way stroke is treated, giving patients more time to get help.

Early morning one day in June, 84-year-old Barbara Rogoff awoke unable to speak or move her right side.

"It was just a stroke out of the blue. I didn't expect it," she said.

Paramedics transported her to Adventist Health in Glendale within what doctors call the golden window - four and a half hour from the onset of symptoms. Interventional neurologist Mikayel Grigoryan threaded a catheter up to Rogoff's brain and removed three huge clots.

"If it hadn't been for him, I'd be dead," Rogoff said.

Rogoff had quickly recognized the signs and called 911, saving her life. But what if she hadn't woken up for several hours? Doctors said "time is brain," but now researchers are testing a drug that could extend the treatment window for the most common form of stroke by up to a day.

"The mere fact that you can offer a patient a treatment after 24 hours is a revolution," Grigoryan said.

The trial is called timeless and the drug is called TNKase. It takes five second to administer the drug. The gold standard clot-busting drug TPA requires an hour.

Previous studies show, compared to TPA, TNKase has fewer side effects and may be more effective.

"It can be done at pretty much any emergency department that has a CATscan," Grigoryan said.

After four and a half hours, many hospitals won't treat a stroke patient. What this timeless trial is trying to ask is why does everyone have to be put in the same box?

"The brain is too sophisticated to be pigeon-holed by certain time criteria. Everybody's brain is different," Grigoryan said.

There are two types of stroke - those caused by a blood clot and those caused by bleeding. TNKase targets clots.

Grigoryan said think of stroke like a wildfire burning through the brain. The pink area shows destroyed acreage, but even after several hours all the green parts represent hope.

Adventist Health Glendale was the first hospital to enroll patients, but only people who passed the four and a half hour window are eligible. Some will get TNKase and some will get placebos. Doctors said positive findings could be a game changer.

"Take the word disability and scratch the first three letters and you'll get back your ability," Grigoryan said.
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