Acorda drug boosts motor functions in rats after stroke

A new drug developed by Acorda Therapeutics ($ACOR) has restored sensory motor functions to rats in a preclinical stroke study.

The research, presented recently in Honolulu at the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference, found that the Ardsley, NY-based biotech's Glial Growth Factor 2, or GGF2, enhanced limb movement and motor functions in rats that had suffered strokes.

Currently, quick treatment is key to minimizing stroke damage. Patients who suffer ischemic stroke can benefit from an injection of a recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, or TPA, such as alteplase. This potent drug breaks down blood clots and needs to be given within 4.5 hours after stroke symptoms begin if administered in the vein.

"In clinical practice that makes it difficult because most people don't get to an ER or a physician in that window of time," Jeff MacDonald, a spokesman for Acorda, said to FierceBiotechResearch.

With Acorda's drug, scientists initiated the GGF2 therapy in varying doses from 24 hours up to 7 days after the stroke and observed positive effects. The study showed significant improvements in sensorimotor recovery with GGF2 related to dose and frequency of treatment. Scientists noted that improvements in the rats were not associated with reduced lesion volume but were shown to be associated with increased expression of the growth associated protein, GAP43, within the brain, both close to and distant from the area injured by the stroke.

"The potential for this therapy is that it could be administered within a much larger therapeutic window," MacDonald said.

Acorda has already tested GGF2 in heart failure patients, completing its first safety study at the end of 2012. The therapy is in preclinical development for a number of neurological indications, including peripheral nerve injury and stroke.

- read the press release