Dell Medical researchers find drug that may dramatically reduce stroke complications

Sonali Menon, News Reporter

Preliminary studies by researchers at Dell Medical School show that a new generation of clot-busting medication can reduce brain bleeding in stroke victims by half, which could improve the treatment of patients.  

Dr. Steven Warach, a neurology professor and director of the Stroke Institute, led the research efforts which analyzed 9,000 patients in the United States, New Zealand and Australia from 2018 through June 2021. Warach’s team studied the effects of tenecteplase — a newer generation clot-busting drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for treating heart attacks — on brain bleeding in patients with ischemic strokes, which is a type of stroke that occurs when blood flow is restricted in the brain. Researchers found that tenecteplase works faster than alteplase, which is the standard medication used for treating strokes. 

Warach presented his findings at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference on Feb. 9. 

“(Tenecteplase) is a major improvement to be able to cut the time down in terms of administering these medications and cutting off almost an hour of administration time,” said Dr. Ramsey Ashour, an assistant professor of neurosurgery and researcher. “​​We felt enough evidence and safety to be able to take this (study) on, because ultimately we’re driven by trying to improve our outcomes for the patients.”

Tenecteplase offers various benefits compared to alteplase, such as reduced treatment time, lowered costs and easier administration for ER nurses. Additionally, it allows for patients to transition to the next phase of care quicker, Ashour said. 

Compared to an hour-long injection required for alteplase, tenecteplase requires a five-second intravenous injection. Warach said the effectiveness of tenecteplase is also strengthened by its ability to stay in the bloodstream longer than alteplase. 

Part of Warach’s study involves a data registry for the outcomes of patients treated with tenecteplase, which will then be accessible to those in the medical community to decide whether they want to utilize the drug. Assistant neurology professor Adrienne Dula said these trials and data accumulation are necessary to potentially change treatment guidelines for patients set by the American Stroke Association. Dula expects tenecteplase to become more popular. 

“This is a very exciting time for stroke care,” Ashour said. “We’ve now shifted into a phase where we’re really able to deliver treatments from the ER that dramatically change the long term outcome for patients in a positive way.”