Scientists hope a missing gene may lead to the first-ever drug to help stroke patients recover better. It’s a drug that’s given to most HIV patients.
Reams Freedman had a severe stroke 21 years ago.
Reams Freedman, Director of the Stroke Association of Southern California said, “It was like I was run over by a truck. So I went from a fully-functioning man to someone who essentially couldn’t do anything.”
Using physical and occupational therapies that were available, he got back most of his function and now runs a stroke recovery group. Now, his friend, UCLA’s Doctor Tom Carmichael believes a missing gene may speed up stroke recovery, and that may lead to a medication that helps.
S. Tom Carmichael, MD, Ph.D., Prof/Chair of Neurology, Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA said, “It’s tempered hope, but it’s a pathway, and we haven’t had a lot of those.
In a study in Tel Aviv, stroke survivors without a functioning CCR5 gene showed significantly better improvements in motor skills, language, sensory function, memory, and attention. The drug Maraviroc blocks CCR5 and slows HIV progression. Doctor Carmichael hopes the same mechanism will accelerate stroke recovery.
Doctor Carmichael said, “Our hope is that it does enhance recovery, even a little bit, and lets many stroke patients know there’s a possibility if you can get enhanced recovery a little bit and increase brain plasticity, you may be able to do more with a very aggressive rehabilitation program.”
Doctor Carmichael said Maraviroc worked in mouse trials. Human trials are beginning now.
The Maraviroc trial will be run at UCLA, Yale, and Burke Rehabilitation Institute.
Since the drug is already FDA approved for safety in HIV patients, the trial is already in phase two.