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Could a skin cancer drug help treat stroke?


April 18, 2018


Dr. Hsiao-Huei Chen and her team discovered that a drug used to treat skin cancer reduced brain damage after stroke in animal models. While a lack of blood flow that supplies oxygen and nutrients is the first thing to kill brain cells after a stroke, collateral damage from immune cells trying to clean up the mess (inflammation) can be just as bad. One molecule involved in cell death and inflammation is RIPK. A drug currently used to treat skin cancer called Dabrafenib blocks the action of RIPK3. Dr. Chen’s team found that giving mice Dabrafenib one hour after a stroke significantly reduced the size of the damaged area of the brain. The team’s molecular test results suggest that Dabrafenib is working to reduce inflammation after the stroke. Future animal studies will test whether this drug can lead to better recovery. See Neural Regeneration Research for details.

Authors: Shelly A Cruz, Zhaohong Qin, Alexandre F. R. Stewart, Hsiao-Huei Chen

Funding: This research was possible because of generous donations to The Ottawa Hospital for Tender Loving Research. The researchers have also received support from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Chen is supported by a Mid-Career Investigator Award from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario

The Ottawa Hospital: Inspired by research. Driven by compassion


The Ottawa Hospital is one of Canada’s largest learning and research hospitals with over 1,100 beds, approximately 12,000 staff and an annual budget of over $1.2 billion. Our focus on research and learning helps us develop new and innovative ways to treat patients and improve care. As a multi-campus hospital, affiliated with the University of Ottawa, we deliver specialized care to the Eastern Ontario region, but our techniques and research discoveries are adopted around the world. We engage the community at all levels to support our vision for better patient care. See www.ohri.ca for more information about research at The Ottawa Hospital.

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The University of Ottawa is home to over 50,000 students, faculty and staff, who live, work and study in both French and English. Our campus is a crossroads of cultures and ideas, where bold minds come together to inspire game-changing ideas. We are one of Canada’s top 10 research universities—our professors and researchers explore new approaches to today’s challenges. One of a handful of Canadian universities ranked among the top 200 in the world, we attract exceptional thinkers and welcome diverse perspectives from across the globe. www.uottawa.ca

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Amelia Buchanan
Senior Communication Specialist
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Office: 613-798-5555 x 73687
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ambuchanan@ohri.ca