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New stroke research trials will expand patient care options

The University of Minnesota is one of only 25 institutions nationwide taking part in StrokeNet.
The University of Minnesota has been selected to take part in a nationwide stroke research network focusing on stroke prevention, recovery and treatment. Stroke was the fifth-leading cause of death in Minnesota in 2010.

The University of Minnesota has been selected to participate in a national stroke research network—a development that promises to bring new leading-edge clinical trials to University of Minnesota Health patients.

The university is one of only 25 institutions nationwide that will collaborate and conduct research as part of Stroke Trials Network, or StrokeNet, an initiative developed by the National Institutes of Health. The network will focus on three prongs of stroke research: prevention, recovery and treatment.

Each center included in the network will receive $200,000 to cover research costs and $50,000 to train stroke researchers each year for five years. The 25 centers were selected based on demonstrated experience in stroke research and the ability to offer access to the full spectrum of specialties involved in stroke care.

The university’s participation in StrokeNet means that stroke patients seeking treatment will have an expanded range of options that includes a set of high-impact clinical trials, according to M Health Neurologist Mustapha Ezzeddine, MD. Ezzeddine is the principal investigator for StrokeNet at the University of Minnesota. Researcher Michelle Biros is the co-principal investigator.

Did You Know? Nationally, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death.

“Some of these trials allow us to use therapies that we think might be helpful, but we otherwise might not have been able to use,” Ezzeddine said. Ezzeddine expects the first of the clinical trials to roll out early in fall 2014.

The university already offers several stroke-related clinical trials through the NIH-funded Neurological Emergencies Treatment Trials Network (NETT), Ezzeddine said. The trials include analysis of single anti-platelet versus dual anti-platelet treatment, investigation of intensive glucose control and its effects on patient outcomes and a mechanical trial using a device to remove clots from inside blood vessels in the brain.

Enrolling in clinical trials can have several advantages for patients, Ezzeddine said. First, a trial gives you access to advanced experimental treatment options. Patients participating in clinical trials receive a high level of attention from the research and care team conducting the trial. Finally, the patients will be contributing to society by helping advance the science of medical care for patients with similar diseases, Ezzeddine said. The trials are thoroughly vetted for patient safety, Ezzeddine added.

The results of these trials will be shared among institutions participating in the network in an effort to accelerate research and reduce costs, Ezzeddine said.

Stroke was the fifth-leading cause of death in Minnesota in 2010, accounting for over 2,000 deaths statewide, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Nationally, it’s the fourth-leading cause of death, according to the NIH.

For more information about stroke-related clinical trials, please visit the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center's Neurology Department website.