Dr. James Grotta
Dr. James Grotta

Medical School researchers are part of a multi-center, international study investigating the safety and best dosage of a clot-buster for children with acute ischemic stroke.

“No one knows how kids who have suffered a stroke will respond to this type of treatment and we don’t know what the correct dosage might be, so this will look at various doses,” said Dr. James Grotta, chair of the Department of Neurology. “Very few kids have ischemic strokes and they look very different from strokes in adults. We know kids recover quicker and better than adults because a child’s brain has more capability for recovery.”

Grotta, co-director of the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, said children also sometimes present with symptoms that mimic ischemic stroke, but might actually be a migraine or seizure, so the study will also help determine the incidence of pediatric ischemic stroke.

Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery or blood vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot. While ischemic stroke is more common in adults, accounting for 80 percent, it occurs in about 50 percent of all pediatric strokes. The other form of stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a weakened vessel ruptures and bleeds into the brain. According to the American Stroke Association, the risk of both forms of stroke from birth through age 18 is nearly 11 per 100,000 children and stroke is one of the top 10 causes of death in children.

Risk factors include sickle cell disease, clotting disorders, cardiac disorders, arterial disease, and severe infections such as meningitis.

Grotta is the principal investigator for the UTHealth site, the only one in Houston and one of just three in the state. The study is called Thrombolysis in Pediatric Stroke (TIPS).

Children ages 2 to 17 who are enrolled in the study will receive one of three doses of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) within four and a half hours from the first presentation of symptoms. Other sites for the study can be found at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01591096.

-Deborah Mann Lake, Office of Public Affairs, Media Relations