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Assoc Prof Simone Schoenwaelder was awarded a Brain Foundation Research Gift for her work ‘Identification of New Approaches for the Treatment of Stroke’. These Gifts are awarded to applicants on the scientific quality and significance and/or innovation of their research.

“This work represents the culmination of over 20 years of research that our team has invested trying to find safer and more effective treatments for patients who have developed life-threatening blood clots,” states Assoc Prof Schoenwaelder of HRI’s Thrombosis group.

Acute ischaemic stroke (stroke) is the third most-common cause of death and a leading cause of disability worldwide. The majority (85 per cent) of strokes are caused by these dangerous blood clots that reduce/stop flow of blood to the brain.

The mainstay of stroke treatment is therefore to quickly remove these clots and restore blood flow to the brain, to prevent extensive and permanent damage to brain tissue.

Unfortunately, despite best efforts, current therapy is far from optimal, wherein only 13 per cent of all patients presenting to hospital are eligible to receive current thrombolysis or clot busting drugs.

Over the last five years, scientists have developed successful mechanical means of removing large clots, and in those patients eligible for this treatment, this advance has been life changing. Unfortunately, this new therapy is only applicable in a minority of patients and is also is not widely available in remote and rural areas.

It has been the goal of Assoc Prof Schoenwaelder and the Thrombosis team, including Mrs Jessica Maclean, Dr Mike Wu and Director of Cardiovascular Research at HRI, Prof Shaun Jackson, to better identify and develop safer and more effective anti-clotting drugs that will improve outcomes for patients who develop these dangerous blood clots. Over the last seven years, the team has also developed a new and more relevant preclinical model to test these treatments, and one which they hope will provide a more accurate assessment of their effectiveness in improving stroke outcomes.

It is our hope that these studies will ultimately lead to safer and more widely accessible stroke treatments, for the thousands of people around the world who experience this devastating disease each year,” Assoc Prof Schoenwaelder emphasises.

“I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Brain Foundation, the generosity of donors who make this funding possible, and the Foundation executives, who have recognised the value of this research.”

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