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New Stroke Diagnostic Could Help Save Lives

A University of Warwick spin out company has announced new investment by Mercia Technology Seed Fund. The investment together with an Advantage West Midlands Research Grant will enable it to move towards clinical trials of a pioneering stroke diagnostic system.

The portable handheld system being developed by Sarissa Biomedical Ltd, is designed to improve diagnosis and aid treatment in the crucial early stages of stroke. It works by measuring levels of a biomarker, released during a stroke or mini stroke, called a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).

The most common kind of stroke, caused by a blood clot, can be treated using clot-busting drugs. Early intervention here is very important: drugs administered in the first three hours can be highly effective, but after this time, they can do more harm than good. Using Sarissa’s technology, clinicians will be able to speed up intervention.

Professor Nick Dale of Warwick University’s School of Life Sciences and founder of Sarissa Biomedical, says: “There is currently no simple means of diagnosing a TIA. Clinicians rely on interviews and patient history, and MRI scans will only give definitive diagnoses in a small proportion of cases.

“The system we are developing could be used on board ambulances or in hospitals to provide important clues about a patient’s condition that will be invaluable to staff needing to make a rapid decision about the best treatment to administer. Equally importantly, in the Developing World where the availability of MRI scanners in likely to be limited, having a low cost diagnostic tool will be of major benefit.”

Worldwide, around 15 million people per year suffer a stroke, while in the UK, there are about 150,000 cases. It is the single greatest cause of severe acquired disability. Currently, around 10% of people suffering a TIA go on to suffer a more serious stroke, so early intervention is extremely important. The cost to the UK of treating and provide care for stroke patients is estimated to be £6bn annually.

Sarissa Biomedical was set up in 2002, with assistance from Warwick Ventures Ltd., the University of Warwick’s technology transfer office. Details of the investment by Mercia Technology Seed Fund are confidential, but Sarissa is already in discussions with a potential partner to progress the clinical trial.

Further information:
Dr. Ederyn Williams
Warwick Ventures Ltd.
44 (0) 2476 573750