Zocere Inc. may have found a new way to decrease ischemic brain injury in patients following stroke. The company is developing an injectable, degradation-resistant version of the neuroprotective STEP protein that could improve patient outcomes when given up to six hours after the event, longer than the lone marketed stroke drug.

Protein tyrosine phosphatase non-receptor type 5 (PTPN5; STEP) is a downstream regulator of the NMDA receptor pathway. Activation of the NMDA receptor following stroke causes activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK; MAPK14), excessive nitric oxide (NO) production and a neuronal excitotoxic response that contributes to cell death.