A stick-on patch developed by researchers in Nottingham could double the survival chances of stroke patients.
The trial, led by the University of Nottingham, has been funded by the British Heart Foundation and has so far has been tested on 515 patients across the country, including 150 patients from the East Midlands.
The plaster-like patch contains a drug released into the body once it is applied to the back or shoulder.
Seven ambulance services across the country are also testing the drug to look at whether they can use it as a treatment for strokes before a patient gets to hospital.
Research paramedic Mark Dixon said: “At the moment there is nothing paramedics can do for someone having a stroke, other than recognising the symptoms and taking the patient to the nearest hospital.
“The reason behind that is before any treatment can be given, hospital teams need to determine the type of stroke.”
But the glyceryl trinitrate in the new patches helps lower blood pressure and open up blood vessels so that blood can reach the brain.
Dr Nikola Sprigg, associate professor at the University of Nottingham said: “The good thing about this type of drug is that it is safe to give to give to both types of strokes.
“The treatment can start working even before the patients gets to hospital, before they get a brain scan and it could have a dramatic effect on hundreds of thousands of people in this country if it works.”
A randomised control trial is now be conducted, meaning half of a group of patients receive the drug and the other half receive a placebo patch.
Researchers hope to find the group which had the drug recover better than those who did not.
The trial needs to record results from 850 people – and so far more than 500 have been tested.
Dr Sprigg said: “It’s very exciting but we cannot be sure if the trial works or not until we get the results at the end of the trial.”
A stroke is a sudden lack of blood to the brain. There are two types; an ischaemic stroke caused by a blood clot or a hemorrhagic stroke, caused by a burst blood vessel.
The best way to tell the difference is to have a CT scan – which can only be done at hospital.