Magazine article Science News

To Stanch the Flow: Hemophilia Drug Curbs Brain Hemorrhage

Magazine article Science News

To Stanch the Flow: Hemophilia Drug Curbs Brain Hemorrhage

Article excerpt

There's no effective emergency treatment for a cerebral hemorrhage. Roughly 60 percent of people who experience this so-called bleeding stroke die within a year.

A new international study, however, indicates that a drug that speeds blood clotting can reduce death and disability after a bleeding stroke, provided that the person is treated promptly. The drug limits the amount of brain tissue damaged by blood leakage, a predictor of how damaging the stroke will be.

A cerebral hemorrhage kills neurons and other brain cells at the site of the bleeding and threatens cells on the hemorrhage's periphery. If a doctor could limit the bleeding, a patient would have a better chance of recovery, says study coauthor Stephan A. Mayer, a neurologist at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York.

Mayer and a team of physicians in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia treated 303 bleeding-stroke patients with an intravenous drug called recombinant activated factor VII (rFVIIa), which certain hemophilia patients receive under the brand name NovoSeven. The researchers gave a placebo infusion to 96 other patients with bleeding strokes. Upon admission to a hospital and 24 hours later, each participant underwent computed tomography brain scans to detect bleeding.

Patients receiving the drug had about half as much bleeding in the brain the day after admission as did those getting the placebo. Those receiving the largest of the three doses given in the study had the least bleeding, the researchers report in the Feb. …

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