Researchers are looking for safer ways to treat strokes.
Leean Hendrix looks fines now. But in 2002, this former Miss Arizona had a stroke that left half of her body paralyzed. Lots of hard work recovered most of her movement, but nothing can restore her memories.
"I do not remember my first kiss," said Hendrix. "I do not remember prom. I don't remember playing sports. You know, all those things that kind of help to make you the person you are today, I don't remember them."
Like most strokes, hers was caused by a blood clot in the brain. There are clot-busting drugs that can save lives and memories. But Hendrix wasn't given them because of their risks.
Those drugs also attack clots outside the blood vessels, and sometimes cause bleeding, including in the brain. Now biomedical researcher Andras Gruber of Oregon Health & Science University, and his colleagues, have engineered a drug that could be safer.
"What we found is a way to attack the bad clot without attacking the good clot," said Gruber.
They reported in the Journal "Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology" that their new drug is inactive until a bad clot forms. At that point, it interacts with the blood vessel wall to stop clot formation. In animal tests it had no adverse side effects.
"What we wanted to see, whether if you increase the dose of this drug, what happens? And we could not produce a side effect," Gruber said.
If it works in people, it could be readily given at the first sign of a stroke, restoring circulation to the brain minutes or hours earlier than current treatments, fast enough to give stroke victims like Hendrix a future, but without losing their past.