More Than a Clot Buster

By Quinn Eastman

The clot-busting drug tPA has been considered a double-edged sword for people experiencing a stroke. It can help restore blood flow to the brain, but it also can increase the likelihood of deadly hemorrhage.

Many people experiencing a stroke do not receive tPA because the window for giving the drug is limited to the first few hours after onset.

Emory neurologist Manuel Yepes may have found a way to open that window with a modified version of the drug.

Even when its clot-dissolving powers are removed, tPA can still protect brain cells in animals from the loss of oxygen and glucose induced by a stroke, Yepes’s team reported in the Journal of Neuroscience (July 2012). “We may have been giving the right medication for the wrong reason,” Yepes says. “tPA is more than a clot-busting drug. It functions naturally as a neuroprotectant.

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