Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences
Edinburgh Neuroscience and CCBS logos

Funding boost for stroke research

Nov 2015: Stroke patients will be helped by renewed funding to trial medicines aimed at treating their condition.

University researchers will share an award from The British Heart Foundation to support new research into treatments for a type of stroke that affects around 35,000 people in the UK each year.

The £850,000 grant will also fund work at the University of Nottingham.

Disabling condition

A lacunar stroke is caused by damage to one of the small vessels deep within the brain that affects the flow of blood and can lead to long-term disability.

It accounts for around one in four strokes and researchers also believe it could be an underlying cause of at least 40 per cent of dementias.

There is currently no proven treatment for a lacunar stroke and existing anti-clotting treatments for stroke - including aspirin - may even be harmful.

However, a team of researchers from around the UK led by the University’s Professor Joanna Wardlaw will now use BHF funding to run a clinical trial of drugs they believe could offer a new treatment for this disabling stroke.

New drug treatments

In the three year-long trial, around 200 patients will be treated with either cilostazol, isosorbide mononitrate or both.

Isosorbide mononitrate is currently used to treat people with conditions such as angina.

Researchers believe these drugs may help reduce the damage to the arteries in the brain that cause the stroke.

The team will perform MRI scans on people taking part in the trial to see what effects these drugs have on the small blood vessels within the brain.

If successful, this research could deliver new treatments for lacunar strokes and potentially prevent some cases of dementia.

Lacunar strokes can cause brain damage, affecting thinking ability, balance and the way people walk. This is one of the first trials to look into treatments for this particular type of stroke. Following treatment with these drugs, we’ll be monitoring how the blood vessels are changing and seeing if they improve the outcomes of patients that have suffered a lacunar stroke.

Professor Joanna WardlawChair of Applied Neuroimaging

Approximately 40,000 people die from a stroke every year in the UK and the condition is a major cause of disability with over a million UK stroke survivors.