Dr. Jeff Hill, Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, has discovered compounds that are powerful neuroprotectants against brain injury in ischemic stroke. The compounds were identified through cell-based, high-throughput screening of chemical libraries at UNM’s Center for Molecular Discovery and show strong protective properties against neurological damage in animal stroke models. Dr. Hill’s compounds provide neuroprotection when administered during reperfusion (restored blood flow) beyond the window for thrombolytic therapy and reduce infarction (localized tissue death) by 50 percent.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, with an average of one stroke occurring every 40 seconds, and one stroke-related death occurring every four minutes. More than 50 percent of patients are left with long-term motor disability. Since the only FDA-approved drug available to treat stroke, the clot buster tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), has serious limitations and risks, there is significant unmet need for new treatments to decrease neurological damage and prevent death after stroke. Only 3-5% of the nearly 800,000 annual stroke patients in the U.S. receive tPA since it must be given within a 4.5 hour window after the onset of stroke and has a significant risk of causing bleeding in the brain due to injury to the brain’s small blood vessels.
Considering that each year, the FDA approves only 20-30 new drugs, stroke treatment research today focuses on repurposing existing drugs that will extend the therapeutic timeframe of tPA and provide neuroprotection after stroke to slow cell death. To identify promising drugs that can be repurposed for stroke treatment, researchers are using high-throughput screening of chemical libraries to identify drug candidates. High-throughput drug screening is performed using robotics that can rapidly conduct thousands of chemical, genetic, or pharmacological tests to rapidly identify compounds with activity in disease models. Many chemical libraries contain compounds which already have FDA approval for other treatments, thus their approval time for new uses is much shorter.
In addition to stroke therapy, the compounds identified by Dr. Hill have potential uses for treating traumatic brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
STC has filed patent applications on these exciting new technologies and is currently examining commercialization options. If you are interested in information about these or other technologies, please contact Arlene Mirabal at email@example.com or 505-272-7886.