A drug commonly used to bust clots for heart attacks has been shown to be an effective and efficient treatment for strokes, researchers say.
It was found in the largest clinical stroke trial ever run in Canada that Tenecteplase (TNK) is an effective treatment for acute ischemic stroke, Medical Express reported Wednesday.
“Intravenous tenecteplase (0·25 mg/kg) is a reasonable alternative to alteplase for all patients presenting with acute ischaemic stroke who meet standard criteria for thrombolysis,” said the study, published at The Lancet.
Dr. Bijoy Menon, MD, the co-principal investigator on the study, said the findings from the trial are “truly” “important” and “could revolutionize stroke treatment throughout the world.”
“Tenecteplase is known to be an effective clot dissolving drug,” continued Menon, a professor at the University of Calgary. “It is very easy to administer, which makes it a game changer when seconds count to save brain cells.”
The current drug that is recommended for ischemic stroke patients, Alteplase (tPA), comes with certain challenges, Medical Express explained.
“The challenge is that the drug is more complex to administer,” the report said. “It takes up to an hour and requires an infusion pump that needs to be monitored. The pump can be cumbersome when transporting a patient within a hospital, or to a major stroke center for treatment.”
Tenecteplase, though, “can be administered as a single immediate dose,” said Dr. Rick Swartz, MD, Ph.D., clinician-researcher at the University of Toronto, co-principal investigator, and stroke neurologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
“That’s a big advantage, saving critical time and complication,” he said. “TNK could potentially be administered wherever the patient is seen first, at a medical center or small hospital.”
Brian Buck, a neurology professor in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and co-author of the study, emphasized that the tenecteplase “can be administered in a single bolus of drug in less than a minute wherever the patient is first seen, without requiring an infusion pump.”
This is beneficial to mobile stroke units, too. “This means the crew can then attend to moving the patients to the hospital,” Buck said, adding, “Going forward, tenecteplase will be an important medical therapy that will hopefully be available to Albertans who are suffering from an ischemic stroke.”
Moreover, according to the University of Alberta, the researchers “developed a simple consent and enrolment process that included a mobile app that allowed them to enrol patients quickly and safely.”
“This was important during the peak of COVID since it was essential to minimize return visits to the hospital and contact between study patients and staff,” Buck said.