• Christopher Haggarty-Weir

Time To Bite Back Against Stroke

Haggarty-Weir Consulting and its Founder, Dr. Christopher Haggarty-Weir, are proud to be donors to the Not If, When campaign launched by the University of Queensland (UQ). Specifically, we are donating to Prof. Glenn King’s (of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, IMB) campaign to raise funds for a clinical trial for his new anti-stroke molecule. Dr. Haggarty-Weir is actually alumni of UQ, where he did his Master of Molecular Biology in the lab of Prof. King, and is one of the reasons why we have such confidence in the outstanding medical research generated by this savvy professor.

Dr. Haggarty-Weir and Prof. King at a UQ Molecular Biology Awards night.

Stroke will affect around 15 million people per year, killing over 5 million globally. The primary cause of stroke is an underlying heart or blood vessel disease causing a sudden onset of weakness, numbness, paralysis, slurred speech, aphasia, problems with vision and other manifestations of a sudden interruption of blood flow to a particular area of the brain. Whilst there are ways to help minimize the risk of stroke (i.e. smoking cessation, prescribed aspirin in high-risk individuals), there is only one FDA-approved drug for treating ischaemic stroke, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). The way tPA works is to dissolve the clot and improve blood flow to the brain; however, you first require transport to a hospital, scans made by a specialist, then the drug given via IV. This is problematic since you only have a narrow window to try and treat a stroke, only a few hours in fact, and any brain death that has occurred is often permanent.

This is where Prof. King’s new drug molecule comes in. Discovered from the venom of an Australian spider, this compound shuts off a specific ion pathway in the brain that is responsible for triggering massive cell death after stroke. The compound can protect the brain even when delivered up to eight hours after a stroke, and patients could receive it via paramedic staff on the way to the hospital.

The molecular structure of Prof. King’s drug. From Chassagnon et al., (2017), PNAS.

Dr. Haggarty-Weir sat down with Prof. King to ask a few pertinent questions-

CHW: Why is there such a short window of time to try and ablate the effects of stroke?

GK: Stroke leads to the death of 2 million neurons every minute in the affected region of the brain. The sooner the arterial occlusion can be removed and the brain protected, the better the outcome for stroke patients.

CHW: What makes your experimental drug compound competitive as a prospective medicine?

GK: Currently, the only available stroke therapeutic is a clot-busting medication that attempts to remove the occlusion. It must be used within 4.5 hours of ischemic stroke, and it cannot be used for haemorrhagic stroke. Remarkably, there no drugs currently available that protect the brain after stroke. Our compound provides robust protection of the brain by rescuing neurons from cell death, and it can be used up to at least 8 hours after stroke onset. Moreover, it should be safe for all types of stroke, allowing patients to be treated by first responders prior to their arrival at the hospital.

Animal model brain slice before (Vehicle) and after (Hi1a) drug delivery. Notice a significant reduction in brain tissue death as marked by less darkened areas on the right side of the brain. From Chassagnon et al., (2017), PNAS.

Whilst the compound has shown great effectiveness in animal models, Prof. King requires a scale-up in its production to facilitate a human clinical trial. Haggarty-Weir Consulting would like to thank our clients (including Bonaccord Law, Carcinotech, and Symphonic) as a portion of their fees goes to our philanthropic endeavours. However, we would urge other to also help donate to Prof. King’s outstanding medical research to help get his new drug from lab bench to patients. You can read more and donate here (also don’t forget to share this to help increase the potential reach globally, as this is a global problem)- https://stories.uq.edu.au/contact-magazine/2018/biting-back-in-race-against-time/index.html?fbclid=IwAR1NP_05EGdcY5cGKGEBo9MAAJecJJYC3yWebQVXgPgEWWrlYhZqbZpevZA

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