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Stroke program leads clinical stroke research for Canada


Calgary, AB – Two new clinical research studies on stroke and the appointment of a leading stroke neurologist to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT & Nunavut, professorship in stroke research, have been announced by the University of Calgary and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“It is my pleasure to announce Dr Michael Hill as the appointee of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT & Nunavut, professorship in stroke research,” says Diana Krecsy, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “We are so fortunate in the Calgary community to have such an outstanding physician-scientist and a stroke team here, leading the world in offering the latest treatments and research in stroke.”

The five-year professorship is supported by an annual gift from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Alberta, NWT & Nunavut. “It is an honour for me to be named to this professorship,” says Dr Hill, a U of C stroke neurologist in the department of clinical neurosciences, and director, Calgary Stroke Program. “This funding support helps us to take our stroke program to a whole new level, and offer Calgarians the very latest clinical treatments for stroke.”

The stroke team, led by Dr Andrew Demchuk, Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research Clinical Investigator and Dr Hill, is also overseeing the Canadian arm of two new international clinical trials in stroke.

The US$20 million ALIAS trial, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States, will enrol stroke patients from 60 clinical centres across North America. This Phase III clinical study, expected to include 40 – 50 patients from the Calgary area, investigates high-dose albumin therapy – a plasma protein – as a new treatment for acute stroke.

“The success of the Phase I trial was largely attributable to the superb efforts of the Calgary Stroke Group, under the able direction of Dr Michael Hill,” says Dr Myron D Ginsberg, the principal investigator of ALIAS trial, University of Miami. “Two-thirds of the patients in the Phase I trial came from Calgary.”

A second NIH-funded clinical trial, led in Canada by Dr Demchuk, compares the use of the clot-busting drug t-PA delivered intravenously (the current standard of care), and delivered via the patient’s artery directly into the brain. The IMS III trial, also a US$20 million study, expects to enrol up to 900 stroke patients at 42 centres throughout North America.

“Our team will lead the imaging analysis for this study, co-ordinate the 10 Canadian centres as well as enrol Calgary patients,” says Dr Demchuk. “One of our primary goals is to further decrease time-to-treatment for people with stroke. Our sophisticated intervention team, from the ER doctors and nurses, to the neurosurgeons and interventional neuroradiologists, will ensure we maximize outcomes for our patients.”