Possible Stroke Drug

May Aid Brain Cells

Researchers have discovered a potential new drug for stroke victims that might help save brain cells without causing the bleeding and cell damage that can result from the current treatment.

The drug, called SB-3CT, might be used alone or in combination with the standard treatment, known as tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the researchers wrote in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"We may be able to create a new generation of drugs without the side effects we've been seeing," said Stuart Lipton, director of neuroscience and aging research at the Burnham Institute, a nonprofit biomedical research institution in San Diego.

Each year about 700,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association. Almost 163,000 die, making stroke the third-leading cause of death, the association said.

Stroke also causes disabilities among many survivors inasmuch as the broken or clogged blood vessels leave at least portions of the brain without oxygen. About 5.4 million stroke survivors are alive in the United States, according to the association.

Initial tests showed that mice treated with SB-3CT had only 30 percent of the brain damage suffered by the mice who received the standard treatment, Lipton and his colleagues wrote.

Use of tPA, the only medical treatment approved for strokes, is limited to about 3 to 4 percent of U.S. stroke patients because it must be administered within three hours of an attack, said Zezong Gu, the report's lead author and staff scientist at the Burnham Institute.

Family-Planning Clinics

Report More Clients

Federal family-planning clinics served almost 5.1 million clients last year, the highest level ever reported, according to an annual survey released this week. This includes 55,000 more clients than in 2003.

Although the clinics, also known as Title X clinics, have traditionally focused on women, about one-third of the increase was the result of the clinics' seeing more male clients. This is in part because the clinics have recognized that men are also an important part of family planning and "have tried to reach them through their partners or independently" in recent years, said Lawrence Finer, associate director of domestic research at the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which produced the 2004 family-planning report.

The report also found that 86 percent of women visiting the clinics -- or more than 4.1 million women -- used contraceptives. This percentage has remained steady over the past five years, and oral contraceptives, injection and condoms were the top three forms of birth control.

There are 4,568 Title X clinics nationwide that receive more than $900 million in total federal funding. Title X is the only federal program dedicated to funding family planning and related reproductive health care services. Although the majority of its clients are low-income families, anyone can use the services, which are provided by hospitals, clinics and programs such as Planned Parenthood.

-- Compiled from reports

by staff writer Naseem Sowti

and Bloomberg News