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MI Press: Study of venom drug Viprinex

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Thu Mar 6 12:11:27 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

GRAND RAPIDS PRESS (Michigan) 06 March 08 Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo participates in study of venom drug Viprinex (Linda Stewart)
Doctors in Kalamazoo and around the world are tapping an unlikely source to help stroke patients.
The venom of the Malaysian pit viper is the potent ingredient found in an experimental drug called Viprinex, now being tested in hospitals. When given intravenously, Viprinex has been shown to help dissolve clots that plug arteries and cut off oxygen and blood flow to the brain.
According to doctors, the major advantage of Viprinex, which also thins the blood, is that it may be effective as long as six hours after a stroke patient's symptoms begin. That would double the window of the only government-approved clot-busting therapy, called tPA, which must be given within three hours.
Doctors at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo are participating in the drug trial but are now waiting for a patient who meets the viprinex study's criteria, said Jason Mansum, public and media relations specialist for the hospital.
Dr. Phillip Green, director of neurological research at Borgess Research Institute, said Borgess tested earlier versions of the drug in clinical trials in the early 1990s.
"We were impressed by the medication. We had dramatic results," Green said of Viprinex. He recalled a 37-year-old stroke patient who received the drug: "She was totally paralyzed and couldn't speak. After receiving Viprinex, she completely reversed."
The main difficulty in the earlier trials was that the venom-based drug then had to be administered within three hours of the stroke, Green said.
There have been three prior studies conducted on the drug under a different name, ancrod. Those trials found that patients who received the drug intravenously over a 72-hour period had regained more function after three months than patients who received a placebo.
While ancrod caused a slightly higher rate of bleeding in the brain -- 5.2 percent compared with 2 percent for the placebo group -- it did not cause an increase in deaths.
In the new Viprinex trial, a lower dose of the drug is being given and the infusion time is shorter -- three hours compared with 72 hours, Wasiewski said.
Under the trial's guidelines, some patients will receive Viprinex while others get a placebo. Doctors won't know who got the real thing until the research -- which is being conducted at 200 sites worldwide -- has been completed in 2009. Patients are followed for 90 days after receiving Viprinex so their level of recovery can be assessed.
The venom is frozen before being purified and converted to a drug product, explained Warren Wasiewski, the scientist overseeing the trial for Neurobiological Technologies Inc., the company that makes Viprinex.
"We haven't had too many people get upset about the fact this is a snake venom," he said when asked how patients or their families have reacted.
Doctors involved in the Viprinex study said they are screening patients very carefully, excluding anyone with a history of hemorrhage.
Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo participates in study of venom drug Viprinex


   

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