A new possible therapy for treating brain damage among type 2 diabetics who have suffered from a stroke has been proposed by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

The suggested therapy, published in the scientific journal Diabetes, involves using an approved type 2 diabetes drug called linagliptin. The researchers hope that this finding will reduce brain injury in other patient groups who are at high risk of developing stroke.

A stroke occurs when a blood clot or a rupture of a blood vessel reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain, resulting in damage of neural tissue. It is a serious medical emergency that may lead to severe neurological damage, and even death.

Compared to the general population, patients with diabetes are at a significantly increased risk of stroke – about twice as likely – leading to a much higher rate of mortality caused by heart attack or stroke.

Thrombolysis is currently the most common acute treatment for stroke, administered shortly after symptoms show, that reduces disability. It improves circulation by breaking down blood clots in blood vessels. The patient is given a thrombolytic agent, a drug that can dissolve a thrombus (clot) and reopen a vein or artery. Thrombolytic agents are used for the treatment of stroke, DVT (deep vein thrombosis), pulmonary embolism, and heart attack. Thrombolytic agents are also known as clot-busters.

Unfortunately, this form of therapy is not effective among patients with diabetes, and has serious side effects, including brain hemorrhage.

Linagliptin is a DPP-4 inhibitor – it is able to effectively reduce the level of glucose among diabetics with type 2 diabetes. Linagliptin is safe and effective in reducing glucose levels for up to 102 weeks.

In a study conducted on diabetic mice, scientists administered linagliptin or a placebo before and after inducing a stroke. They were thus able to simulate the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes on linagliptin.

The researchers found that Linagliptin is very effective at reducing brain damage after a stroke given it’s neuroprotective properties. This could mean that compared to other drugs, linagliptin might have a better prognosis following a stroke among type 2 diabetics.

The study was carried out by scientists from the Department of Clinical Science and Education, the Stockholm South General Hospital (Södersjukhuset), and the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist