Stroke researchers hope new drug will aid recovery

Stroke researchers have begun a major £2.6M project looking at whether a new drug can improve recovery after subarachnoid haemorrhage.

The four-year trial aims to test whether a drug called Kineret® can improve recovery following aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage (aSAH) – this is when an aneurysm (a bulge in one of the blood vessels in the brain) bursts and causes bleeding onto the brain.

Although SAH can be devastating, changes in how patients are treated and managed means that more patients not only survive but make a good recovery. But despite these advances, a high percentage of patients still experience long-term problems that affect their daily life.  Preventing or reducing these problems is an ongoing challenge for doctors and researchers. Over the past decade, researchers in Manchester and Salford have carried out a number of studies which have shown that reducing inflammation may improve patients’ recovery following aSAH.

Kineret® is an approved drug prescribed to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Smaller trials looking at the effectiveness of this drug as a treatment for aSAH found it to be safe and acceptable to patients, as well as successfully reducing levels of potentially harmful inflammation in the brain. This new trial will now test the drug in 800 aSAH patients across the UK to confirm whether reducing this inflammation translates to an improvement in outcomes.

The research is sponsored by The University of Manchester and led by Professor Andrew King and Mr Hiren Patel. Salford Royal will lead the 20 NHS sites involved.

Professor King (pictured) said: “We have found that a naturally-occurring protein found in the body, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), blocks inflammation. Kineret® is a synthetic form of IL-1Ra that is already widely used in healthcare worldwide and we know that it is effective in reducing inflammation in the brain after aSAH.

“In our new study we will compare quality of life and disability for patients in two different groups – one receiving injections of the treatment  twice daily for up to 21 days and the other receiving standard clinical care.

“Recovery after aSAH can be very difficult and we very much hope that our study will help us find a way forward to help the estimated 3,000 people a year in the UK who survive this devastating condition.”

The latest study builds on previous work led by Professor Pippa Tyrrell over 15 years at Salford Royal and The University of Manchester. It is funded by a £2.6M National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) programme grant.