LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- May is American Stroke Month.
A stroke is where blood flow to the brain is cut off and blood cells are deprived of oxygen and eventually die. The longer that clot remains, the greater the chances of death or permanent damage. Well, at UAMS they may have found a way to get around that blockage and get oxygen to the brain cells.
Dr. William Culp could've retired long ago if he'd wanted to.
“First I enjoy what I do so I don't want to retire,” Dr. Culp said.
And what he's doing is overseeing a clinical trial of perfluorocarbon nanodroplets. These droplets carry oxygen and they're small, 20 to 30 times smaller than a red blood cell. Think of it as a molecular army carrying small oxygen tanks, so small they can't be stopped.
“Because a block is not solid. It's a network of crud that sort of plugs it up but little bits can get around the edges and a little bit is all it takes,” he said.
So when someone suffering stroke is brought to the ER, a nanodroplet IV can deliver oxygen to brain cells that don't die so quickly and doctors can remove the blockage.
“We can take the number of patients getting treated for stroke aggressively with success up from seven to eight percent to 30 or 40 percent. That's my ambition,” Dr. Culp said.
This has the potential of turning the page on strokes, which is why the world is taking notice.
“We have this registered with trials.go, so everybody in the world has the potential to look and see exactly what we're doing. I see notices every day of people checking in on our site, so people are watching,” he said.
It is still early. It's going to be a while before this becomes a reality. Until then everything you read about treating strokes is about speed, getting patients seen quickly.
“But if we can give them extra time to do that we're going to double or triple the impact on patients and we're talking hundreds of thousands of folks in this country every year,” he said.
This is a phase one trial, with three more phases to go, and funding has to be procured for every phase. But, so far so good and you get the impression this story is only going to get bigger as it progresses.