MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?
A/Prof Meloni: Due to the lack of clinically available neuroprotective drugs to minimize brain injury after stroke we had been working in the neuroprotection field for some years within the Stroke Research Group at the WA Neuroscience Research Institute.
With respect to the latest findings, we were using arginine-rich peptides for several years as delivery vehicles to introduce experimental “neuroprotective peptides” into brain cells and the brain. Peptides are small chains of amino acids and the building blocks of protein. Arginine is one of the twenty amino acids naturally produced in the body. Arginine-rich peptides have an unique property in that they can transverse cell membranes and gain entry into cells, and even cross the blood brain barrier, which is unusual as most drugs able unable to do so.
Using in vitro neuronal cell culture stroke models we soon discovered that poly-arginine and arginine-rich peptides on their own possessed potent neuroprotective properties. Furthermore, we showed that as the length of the poly-arginine peptide increased so did the peptides neuroprotective properties. Excitingly, the poly-arginine peptides were even more potent than the ”neuroprotective peptides” we had been working with and peptides developed by other overseas researchers.
We have now confirmed using a laboratory animal stroke model that poly-arginine peptides could reduce brain damage when administered up to 1-hour after the stroke.
MedicalResearch: What are the main findings?
A/Prof Meloni: Our findings have identified a new class of neuroprotective agent, which we have now confirmed at least in animal studies has the ability to reduce brain damage after stroke. These peptides may also be useful for reducing brain injury in other acute brain disorders such as traumatic brain injury and perinatal hypoxia-ischaemia.
MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
A/Prof Meloni: We believe our findings could significantly complement the exciting developments recently reported at the International Stroke Conference (involving the clinical trials of a new treatment to improve blood supply to the brain).
For example, the peptides could do this by reducing brain damage to tissue that is still vulnerable even after treatment to improve blood flow. Also, these peptides could make the recently reported new treatment available to even more patients by extending the time that patients can receive the new treatment and still obtain benefit.
The most encouraging and distinct benefit offered by our potential treatment are the positive signs that it may be effective up to 1-hour after a stroke, even without the new treatment. This would obviously be of immense benefit to stroke patients who, for whatever reason, are not able to receive the new treatment or who do not have access to a hospital that can provide that new stroke treatment.
MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
A/Prof Meloni: I’m hopeful that together with additional funding support, the right supporters and collaborators, we’ll continue to move rapidly through the next stages of research and testing. Additional animal studies are required to determine optimal dosing, efficacy of the peptides in other stroke models and determination of how long after stroke the peptides may still be effective. It will also be necessary to assess the peptides in stroke model by an independent laboratory. We have also commenced research to test the peptide treatment in traumatic brain injury and perinatal hypoxia-ischaemia models.
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bruno Meloni PhD (2015). Peptides May Reduce Brain Injury After Stroke