Developments to Watch
HELPING STROKE PATIENTS' BRAIN CELLS TO SURVIVE
Minimizing brain damage after a stroke depends on preventing the death of brain cells. As cells die, they release a chemical called glutamate, which overexcites neighboring cells, causing them to degrade and release more glutamate, provoking an ever-widening circle of brain-cell death.
Several types of chemicals stop the ripple effect by binding to a group of receptors called the NMDA complex. But they can cause side effects such as delirium and aggressive behavior. In animal studies, however, one of these compounds called glystasins inhibited the death of brain cells without side effects. This May, CoSensys Inc. of Irvine, Calif., and Ciba-Geigy Ltd. signed a pact to develop the CoSensys glystasin compound Acea 1021. Trials to evaluate the drug's safety and side effects in stroke victims are scheduled to begin in six months.EDITED BY RUTH COXETER