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Dr Rebecca Trueman

2014 pump priming award recipient

Dr Rebecca Trueman, University of Nottingham

Development of a clinically valid co-morbid animal model of stroke for novel drug development.

Stroke is the leading cause of neurological disability in the UK and despite a lot of effort and research into new drugs, only one effective treatment has been developed for stroke, tissue plasminogen activator – a clot busting drug. Disappointingly this treatment is only suitable for 5-15% of patients who have a stroke. Therefore the development of new therapies is vital.

Potential treatments for stroke have to be tested in animals, as currently there is no other way to reflect the complex interactions between the brain and blood vessels, and to determine how the stroke will affect levels of disability. However, one issue that has undoubtedly contributed to the failure in drug discovery for stroke is that the animals used are not reflective of the majority of the population of patients who have a stroke. Most animals are young, fit and healthy, whereas the average stroke patient is elderly and suffers from many other problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

In order to test new potential treatments for stroke we plan to combine aging with a high fat diet. We will test these rats to see if they develop the biological changes seen such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, alongside looking for changes in relevant markers in the blood and pathology of the blood vessels. We will then induce an artificial stroke in these rats, designing the most refined surgical method and post-surgical care regime causing the least suffering and harm possible. If successful, in future we will use aged, high fat-fed rats for testing potential new therapeutics.