Evoked Neuronal Activity: A New Therapy for Acute Ischemic Stroke?

European Coordinator:
  • Matthias ENDRES, Charité University Medicine Berlin (Germany)
North American Coordinator:
  • Ron D. FROSTIG, University of California, Irvine (USA)
  • Dritan AGALLIU, University of California, Irvine (USA)
  • Pablo BLINDER, Tel-Aviv University (Israel)
  • Brian MacVICAR, Timothy MURPHY, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada)
  • Alan URBAN, Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders, Louvain (Belgique)

One of the great challenges in the treatment of acute stroke is the narrow time window, on the order of several hours, in which medications and interventions are effective. In addition, many patients may be ineligible for thrombolysis, an intravenous treatment that dissolves the blood clot that is blocking the artery and causing the symptoms. There is a great need to develop other treatment options. An exciting new possibility being developed by this network is contralateral somatosensory stimulation (SSS). In this non-pharmacological approach, care-givers provide touch stimulation to the body on the side opposite the one where the artery is blocked in the brain.   This rather simple treatment has been shown to markedly reduce infarct volume following temporary Middle cerebral artery occlusion in rats.   It is believed that SSS’s effects derive from enhanced blood flow to the damaged brain through collateral blood vessels. Interestingly, Frostig, one of the network coordinators, has recently found that although SSS may be effective in the early stages of stroke, it appears to be detrimental after three hours from stoke onset. This international consortium, with expertise in the basic science of neurophysiology and in clinical experimental stroke, hopes to take what they learn from various rodents and apply the knowledge to translational human pilot studies.