Monkeys bridge the stroke gap
Toronto-based NoNO Inc. has become the first company to show that macaque models have the potential to derisk clinical testing of new stroke therapies, which typically have gone right from rat or rabbit models into humans. In February, the company reported that its neuroprotective peptide NA-1 was effective both in macaque models of stroke1 and in a Phase II trial to treat ruptured brain aneurysms.
The only drug in the U.S. to treat ischemic stroke is the clot buster Activase alteplase from Roche's Genentech Inc. unit and Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, which was approved in 1996. Since then, numerous neuroprotective therapies have shown efficacy in standard rat models of stroke, but all have failed in the clinic.
In 1999, the Stroke Academic Industry Roundtable (STAIR) recommended testing neuroprotective agents in nonhuman primate models of stroke because their brains are anatomically and biologically similar to humans, and they can be given neurological and behavioral tests similar to those used to measure outcomes in clinical trials.2