Advances in cerebral ischemia: experimental approaches.
Drugs that dissolve clots, such as streptokinase and rTPA, and drugs that promote vasodilation are undergoing clinical testing for the treatment of hyperacute stroke, but an adjuvant therapy that either prolongs temporal thresholds before irreversible injury occurs or actually protects the brain from ischemia would transform these trials. Mild hypothermia, either intraischemically or at the onset of reperfusion, provides us with a gold standard for cytoprotection against which new pharmacologic strategies can be measured. The cytoprotective effects of the voltage-sensitive calcium channel blockers and the NMDA antagonists have been relatively less compelling than more recent findings with non-NMDA or AMPA antagonists. Their ability to inhibit SINN or reduce neocortical infarction is remarkable. Future randomized clinical trials for both resuscitated cardiac arrest victims and patients sustaining embolic stroke are predicted by this major advance in the field of stroke medicine.