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A clinical trial has shown that a drug commonly used for patients with bleeding disorders has the potential to be used to lessen the side effects of blood-thinning drugs for patients who have experienced a stroke.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham and RDM assessed the suitability of desmopressin to be used in larger trials to help reduce the number of people who die or are disabled after intracerebral haemorrhage. The results from the DASH trial, which was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), have been published in The Lancet Neurology.

Approximately three million deaths each year worldwide are due to spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage, and there is currently no proven effective drug treatment. Researchers estimate that two-thirds of survivors are left dependent on others and a quarter of patients were taking antiplatelet drugs at the time of incident.

Patients from 10 hospitals across the UK, who had suffered an intracerebral haemorrhage while taking antiplatelet drugs, took part in the clinical trial. One group was given desmopressin whilst a second group received a ‘dummy drug’.

Dr Michael Desborough, an RDM researchers who is also part of Oxford University Hospital's Department of Clinical Haematology, said: “Intracerebral haemorrhage for people taking antiplatelet drugs leads to thousands of deaths every year. Unfortunately, at present there are no treatments available.

“The results of the DASH trial are an important step towards assessing whether desmopressin might reduce the high risk of death or disability from intracerebral haemorrhage worldwide.”

Professor Nikola Sprigg, of the University of Nottingham’s Stroke Trials Unit, added: “Whether desmopressin reduces the number of people who die or are disabled after intracerebral haemorrhage is an important question to answer. These findings support the need for a definitive, large-scale trial to determine if desmopressin improves outcomes in patients with intracerebral haemorrhage on antiplatelet drug therapy.”