A study of brain scanning techniques could identify patients whose brain tissue can be rescued after a stroke.
In the study patients across Scotland will be scanned three times in the month after their stroke, to determine whether any damaged brain tissue can be saved.
The project is one example of the new multi-centre imaging trials made possible by SINAPSE – Scottish Imaging Network: A Platform for Excellence – a virtual brain imaging lab which launches in Edinburgh on 16 October (Thursday).
Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow hope the project will improve scanning methods for stroke and further understanding of the chemical changes that take place in a stroke patient's brain.
This work, funded through the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration, could lead to development of a blood test that ambulance staff could use to tell how far a patient's stroke has progressed.
Professor Joanna Wardlaw, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Molecular Medicine said: "This research is like the 'holy grail' of stroke treatment. For some patients, the damage caused by stroke is unfortunately permanent and irreversible. But for others, we could make a real difference if we could identify which areas of their brain are salvageable. SINAPSE has allowed us to share our expertise and equipment, and by working together we hope to find the solution quicker than would be possible if we worked alone."
Chief Executive of the Scottish Funding Council, Mark Batho, said: "Collaborations such as this are a major focus for SFC funding and are becoming a defining feature of research in Scottish universities. SINAPSE is already making all kinds of exciting connections across disciplines and is creating innovative links between universities and the NHS. It's a great example of how pooling works for Scotland."
Dr Alison Murray, Deputy Director of SINAPSE and Clinical Senior Lecturer in Radiology at the University of Aberdeen, said: "As well as stroke, SINAPSE will be addressing other very important brain diseases and disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, schizophrenia, depression and ageing of the brain. It also played a key role in the recent development of a new drug for Alzheimer's disease."
SINAPSE is an initiative in imaging, involving the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Dundee, Glasgow, Stirling and St Andrews. It has secured £6.3m from the Scottish Funding Council (plus £700k support from the Chief Scientist Office), and £35m investment from the partner universities. It will initially run until 2012.
This research has been funded and supported by the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration (TMRC), a partnership of the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with Grampian, Tayside, Lothian and Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS Boards, the industrial partner Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Scottish Enterprise. TMRC is managed by the Translational Medicine Research Initiative (TMRI Ltd) (for further details visit www.tmri.co.uk).