In my story today on biotech funding, I met an interesting character named Dr. Jackson Streeter, but I couldn’t fit in all his details in the story. So here’s some more on Streeter:

In 1997, he left his dream job as a pilot, flight instructor and surgeon, in the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, known as Top Gun, in order to develop a laser therapy tool used to treat people suffering from stroke. At the time he was researching a device that was used to alleviate pain in the necks of fighter pilots who strain against G-force pressure. When Streeter’s mentor, Dr. George Romano, a veteran Navy surgeon, died of a stroke two days after his retirement, Streeter decided to devote his research to aid other stroke victims.

There are two types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are caused by a blood clot that interferes with oxygen’s passage to the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes involve a leaking blood vessel within the brain.

While more 600,000 Americans experience an ischemic stroke per year, there is only one stroke drug available for them, called tPA, developed by Genentech in 1987. But tPA, which can dissolve blood clots in the brain that cause a stroke, can only work if it’s administered within three hours of the stroke’s occurrence, and only 5 percent of victims make it to the hospital within that time frame.

Streeter’s device, called NeuroThera, uses a laser to increase energy production in the brain cells’ mitochondria, the part of a cell that provides the energy necessary to keep it alive.

When a person suffers a stroke, brain cells die rapidly, the victim can suffer serious brain damage, paralysis, or death. NeuroThera has the potential to sustain the life of brain cells during a stroke. Unlike tPA, NeuroThera can be used up to 24 hours after the initial occurrence of the stroke. Currently the device is in its final phase of a 660-patient clinical trial and is expected to complete enrollment by the end of this month.

JOAQUIN SAPIEN

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