14 March 2014

Scientists from QBI at UQ have led an international team to discover a new avenue for the treatment for the debilitating effects of ischaemic stroke on patients.

Scientists from QBI at UQ have led an international team to discover a new avenue for the treatment for the debilitating effects of ischaemic stroke on patients.

UQ’s QBI, School of Biomedical Sciences and Institute for Molecular Bioscience worked with researchers from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany, University College London, UK, and Monash University to find a key molecule to stop inflammation of the brain.

QBI’s Professor Frederic Meunier says that current stroke treatments – primarily aspirin or tissue plasminogen activator – clear clots caused by stroke, but often result in extra trauma as blood rushes back into highly delicate areas already damaged in the brain.

“Whenever you have a clot, you have inflammation, and when this happens in the brain it is very bad news,” Professor Meunier said.

“Therefore it’s critical to stop inflammation following clotting in the brain, and we’ve found that a molecule called CAL-101 would selectively prevent excess neuroinflammation.”

In a mouse study, the team found that using CAL-101, a selective phosphoinositide-3 kinase delta (PI3Kd) inhibitor, resulted in up to three hours of protection against the excessive secretion of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) that causes inflammation.

“We’ve shown that there is a window of opportunity for treatment, and this would be an ideal first response treatment administered in conjunction with current treatments,” Associate Professor Thiruma Arumugam said.

The findings of this highly promising treatment coincide with current public health messages to identify the signs of stroke, and seek immediate medical treatment for a stroke victim in an area where the estimated economic burden of disease in Australia is $49.3 billion.

“CAL-101 was named molecule of the year by the FDA in America for the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma, and is likely to come out on the market in the near future,” he said.

“We are not miles away from seeing real world results with this – we basically only have to use a different application for the same or similar drug.

“CAL-101 is a very sexy molecule at the moment, because not only does it look like it can treat lymphomas, but here we’ve shown it can also alleviate complications from stroke.”

Director of UQ’s Centre for Advanced Imaging, Professor David Reutens says that the findings could provide improved outcomes for patients.

“This finding is exciting because it may lead to new ways to treat stroke patients,” Professor Reutens said.

“Strokes are a major and frequent cause of disability; one Australian suffers a stroke every 10 minutes.”

The study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC project grant 1005964 and a Senior Research Fellowship) and SpinalCure Australia, and is published in Nature Communications on 14 March 2014.

Media: Mikaeli Costello, Queensland Brain Institute, +61 401 580 685 or mikaeli.costello@uq.edu.au; Professor Frederic Meunier, Queensland Brain Institute, +61 7 3346 6373, +61 405 194 775 or f.meunier@uq.edu.au

Queensland Brain Institute

The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) is a world-class research facility based at The University of Queensland’s St Lucia campus. Researchers at QBI make great contributions to the field by studying fundamental cellular and mechanistic processes, as well as disorders and diseases from early brain development through to later life. Our scientists work to understand complex functions such as cognition, ageing, neurological disease, mental illness, and learning and memory. www.qbi.uq.edu.au