Aussies make discovery in stroke treatment

Health Watch, Normal

The National, Thursday January 30th, 2014

 AUSTRALIAN scientists have made a significant breakthrough in the treatment of stroke.

A group of researchers led by Dr Chris Sobey at the Monash Faculty of Biomedical and Psychological Sciences has discovered that an oestrogen receptor plays a significant role in the treatment of stroke but that it works in different ways for men and women.

The oestrogen receptor, GPER, occurs in both men and women. 

When this receptor is blocked by a drug in men up to four hours after the event, the symptoms of stroke can be alleviated.

But it’s the opposite for older women who need the receptor to instead be triggered by this drug so that it potentially protects them from the harmful effects of stroke.

The research, published in the journal Stroke, shows that a drug that mimics some actions of oestrogen can protect post-menopausal women against stroke, whereas it worsens the condition in men. 

It is the first time that a drug with the potential to reduce and even stop the effect of a stroke in a sex-specific manner has been found.

A stroke happens when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. This can be caused when an artery is blocked (ischaemic stroke) or when one bursts (haemorrhagic stroke).

Lead researcher Associate Professor Chris Sobey said targeting the receptor in younger females had no effect, but that the findings could lead to sex-specific treatments for stroke – Australia’s second biggest killer after coronary heart disease.