A study at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center aims to develop a new way to treat ischemic stroke, a leading cause of death in adults worldwide.
The study is funded by a $1,155,000 translational grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health. Jianxiong Jiang, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, and Jiawang Liu, PhD, director of the Medicinal Chemistry core at UTHSC, are the principal investigators. Thaddeus S. Nowak, PhD, professor in the Department of Neurology, provides expertise in stroke models for the project.
Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of acute stroke cases. Current ischemic stroke treatments, consisting of intravenous thrombolytic therapy and mechanical thrombectomy, have potential risks and must be administered in a short window of time to be effective, which limits patient eligibility. Additionally, those who receive treatment and survive can be left with permanent disabilities.
“The current treatment options for ischemic stroke are very limited, and so there’s an urgent need to develop a new treatment for this condition,” Dr. Jiang said. “Even the patients who survive can have long-term disabilities because of the neuronal injury caused by the stroke.”
The researchers will work to develop novel drug-like antagonists for the prostaglandin receptor EP2, an emerging therapeutic target for brain ischemia-promoted neuroinflammation. Previous work led by Lexiao Li, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Jiang’s lab, validated the feasibility of pharmacologically targeting EP2 in animal models. The team believes this safer and more effective treatment could reduce inflammation and provide protection for neurons after an ischemic stroke. The potential new treatment would have a wider therapeutic window, so it would apply to more patients, while improving behavioral outcomes and reducing long-term disabilities.
“I have a family history of this disease. My father and my grandmother both had ischemic stroke before they died, so that was kind of motivation for me to develop a new treatment for this disease,” Dr. Jiang said.
According to Dr. Jiang, having more treatment options would not only save lives, but would also give hope to stroke patients and their loved ones as they experience a devastating emergency.