A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die. Such an attack on the brain can occur in young and old though it is predominantly an age-related ailment which has an immense impact on the quality of life of older people and, with the continued growth in Europe's ageing population, is becoming a major societal problem.
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One third of people having a stroke will make a significant recovery within a month but most stroke survivors will have long-term problems and in many cases long-term disability.
Despite the massive clinical, social and economic consequences of stroke attacks, effective therapies currently available are limited, despite intensive research efforts and numerous failed clinical trials.
ARISE is a collaborative project funded under the European Union (EU)'s 7th Framework Programme (FP7) which has brought together 14 partners to undertake leading edge research to improve the therapeutic options for stroke victims.
These leading European stroke researchers and clinicians with a track record of established cooperation are sharing their expertise and teaming up with SME partners with relevant R&D capabilities to undertake promising clinical trials.
Importantly, the ARISE consortium combines expertise in clinical as well as preclinical stroke research and has targeted the development of a number of novel, promising therapies including those that induce repair of lost functions and will accelerate the development of neuro-protective and neuro-restorative therapies for stroke victims.
The most promising preclinical strategies developed by the ARISE consortium are being developed into multicentre randomized clinical trials. In addition to conducting clinical trials the ARISE consortium has established a dedicated clinical platform to provide advice to researchers in the consortium regarding clinically relevant questions and modelling.
"The work of the ARISE consortium is directed towards both enriching the quality of life of patients afflicted with stroke and towards reducing the costs of these diseases to the European community," commented ARISE Coordinator Professor Ulrich Dirnagl.
"The various impacts of a stroke and the subsequent reorganisation and repair of the brain are highly complex. Developing successful strategies for brain protection and repair therefore requires a joint effort involving experts in basic neuroscience, vascular biology, neuro-immunology, neuro-protection, neuro-regeneration, drug delivery and clinical stroke neurology."
"We have developed a common model and methods platform. And part of the ARISE project involves the training of young researchers which will lead to a standardisation and harmonisation of laboratory practices within the consortium and the implementation of standard operating procedures."
The ARISE project and another EU-funded large scale cooperation project, EUSTROKE, have led to the creation of the European Stroke Network (ESN). This network with 29 partners from 13 countries has attracted two further EU funded projects, WAKEUP and EUROHYP-1, and partners are jointly bringing a wide range of resources and expertise to develop solutions to this growing societal problem.
The ESN is becoming a hub for the recruitment of additional European centres within and outside the consortium and is enhancing the trans-European flow of information on stroke research from stroke patients to governmental agencies.