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Giving a stroke victim minocycline - a common antibiotic used to treat acne and other skin infections - within 24 hours of a stroke significantly reduces the brain damage caused to the patient, according to researchers at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.
Dr. Yair Lempel and colleagues, who published their discovery this week in the prestigious journal Neurology, said it was a breakthrough, as the antibiotic is widely used and its safety record is known. However, more research is needed to determine the exact dose that has the optimal effect on stroke patients and when to give it.
Lempel, who is chairman of neurology at the hospital, said that the critical "window" after a stroke - in which oxygen-rich blood is prevented from reaching brain tissue - is the first three hours. This is when damage is most significant. The team gave minocyline to 74 patients within 24 hours of the stroke and compared the effects on 77 stroke patients who did not receive the antibiotic. Those who received the drug improved significantly compared to the control group, and there were no significant side effects in any who received minocycline.
Minocycline hydrochloride, also known as minocycline, is a member of the broad spectrum tetracycline antibiotics and has a broader spectrum than the other members. It is a bacteriostatic antibiotic with a long half-life. Minocycline was originally discovered by Lederle Laboratories.
Wolfson director-general Dr. Yitzhak Berlovich said he was proud of the professional work of the researchers and of their accomplishment. "This is another step in the program to establish a multidisciplinary center for treatment of stroke at Wolfson," he said.