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VIPER VENOM AGAINST STROKE
AN anti-clotting drug derived from the venom of the Malaysian pit viper appears to help certain stroke patients recover faster, researchers have said. The drug. ancrod, is currently marketed only in Canada, though it has been used in Europe to treat certain blood clot-related .conditions, according to the report from the University of Texas -Health Science Centre in San Antonio.

The findings come from a study done between 1993 and 1998 of 5C ,people who had suffered acute ischaemic stroke - the type of stroke caused by blood clots which block an artery, damaging the brain Some of the patients in the study received the venom-based drug while, Others were given an inactive substance for comparison.

Of the patients who were given ancrod within three hours of the stroke and twice in ensuing days, 42 per cent were able to take care o themselves 90 days later regarding everyday activities such as walking. Of the group given the placebo, 34 per cent had achieved the same level of functional independence after 90 days.

There was no difference in death rates between the two groups, but the proportion of severely disabled patients was less among those who 'received the venom drug. "This study demonstrates a favorable benefit risk profile for use of ancrod in treatment of acute ischaemit stroke," the study, which was published in Journal of the American Medical Association said.

Two Cleveland Clinic physicians, Marc Mayberg and Anthony Furlan, said that more research was needed to find out whether ancrod was better than TPA - tissue-plasminogen anti clotting drug currently used to treat stroke.

"Even assuming that it gets a licence from US Food and Drug Administration, ancrod is not likely to replace TPA or have an immediate ,large impact on the number of patients with acute ischaemic stroke, who are treated."

As reported in Business Line News Service
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