Searching for stroke cure in vampire bat saliva

Searching for stroke cure in vampire bat saliva

June 28th, 2009 by Susan Pierce in Trends2009people

Dr. Thomas Devlin, 52

* Medical specialty: Neurologist

* Career highlights: Dr. Devlin has been an investigator in more than 40 clinical trials of medicines and devices to treat strokes over the last 10 years. Last month, he and Dr. Peter Hunt, an ear, nose and throat physician, implanted the first Brainsgate brain stimulator stroke device in a human in the United States. He met with former President George Bush two years ago when Mr. Bush toured Erlanger's interventional radiology suite and observed cutting-edge stroke treatment by Drs. Devlin and Baxter (who later had lunch with the president at Porker's).

trendsetters IN the Medical field

Dr. Matthew Mumber, 44

* Medical specialty: Medical director of Hutcheson's Fuller Cancer Center; radiation oncologist with Harbin Clinic in Rome, Ga.

* Career highlights: He was the 2008 recipient of the Georgia Cancer Coalition Hamilton Jordan Founder's Award and also was named 2008 Healthcare Hero by Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a nationally known oncologist who has been involved in the study and treatment of cancer for more than 15 years. He has held leadership positions with the Georgia Cancer Coalition, Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education, Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition and Georgia Society of Clinical Oncology. He is involved with the National Cancer Institute's Community Cancer Centers Program, which will bring state-of-the-art cancer care to patients in community hospitals across the United States.

* He said: "In my practice, I look at all aspects of a person, not just the physical but also the mental, emotional and spiritual. I also look at all aspects of everyone involved in the process, not just the patient but their family and the physician and the individuals at all levels of their being."

Dr. Shauna Lorenzo-Rivero, 34

* Medical specialty: Colorectal surgeon with Parkridge Medical Center and University Surgical Associates

* Careeer highlights: Dr. Lorenzo-Rivero performs three ultramodern surgical procedures new to this region and is adding a fourth procedure in July after FDA approval. These procedures are minimally invasive, therefore, decreasing the patient's pain, hospital stay and time off from work while significantly increasing patient satisfaction. These less-invasive procedures have revolutionized colorectal surgeries that traditionally have been painful, radical and involved long recovery periods. Dr. Lorenzo-Rivero is the only colorectal surgeon in the area performing these operations, and she has played an integral part in developing the new Parkridge Pelvic Floor Center.

* About her: "Dr. Lorenzo is not only a talented surgeon, but a compassionate, caring

physician who is able to relate to her patients on a personal level."

-- Darrell Moore, president and chief executive officer, Parkridge Medical Center Inc.

Dr. Lee Jackson, surgeon, 52

* Medical specialty: Urologist and prostate cancer surgeon at Memorial Hospital

* Career highlights: Formerly the chairman of the Department of Urology for the Cleveland Clinic in Florida for more than 17 years, Dr. Jackson is one of the most experienced prostate surgeons in the United States. He has performed more than 1,000 open prostatectomies and 600 robotic prostatectomies using the daVinci robotic surgical system.

* He said: "I believe prostate surgery, using robotic technology, allows patients to return to their normal daily activities faster, with less discomfort and an improved quality of life, which is our mutual goal."

Dr. Thomas Devlin says one of the most promising clinical trials for the treatment of stroke is a clot-busting drug, Desmoteplase, derived from the saliva of the vampire bat.

Under the direction of Dr. Devlin, Erlanger Southeast Regional Stroke Center was the first in the United States to administer this drug to a stroke patient.

When a vampire bat bites its victim, it secretes an enzyme that prevents blood from clotting. This enzyme is called DSPA, which physicians are using as stroke and heart attack medication. Desmoteplase was approved by the FDA in 2003 and is in its fourth clinical trial.

"Like previous studies with this drug, we will have a nine-hour treatment window, which will allow us to treat many more stroke patients than in the three- hour window we now have for tPA, " Dr. Devlin said.

Short for Tissue Plasminogen Activator, tPA is a clot-busting drug that helps break up clots in the brain to restore normal blood flow. However it can only be used with certain types of strokes and has to be administered within three hours of the onset of symptoms. Dr. Devlin says most stroke patients arrive at the hospital well past that window for administering tPA.

But with timely delivery of alternative treatments such as Desmoteplase, "we are now able to save people who would have had a zero percent chance of survival," Dr. Devlin said. "We have been able to bring patients back from the brink of death."