Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine - along with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Los Angeles - have launched the largest clinical trial of hypothermic brain cooling for stroke to date.

According to a Dec. 7 press announcement from UC San Diego Health Sciences, the study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health, will look specifically at whether hypothermia can be used safely in stroke patients who also receive an FDA-approved intravenous "clot-busting" drug.

UC San Diego will receive $921,000 to fund its portion of the study.

Brain cooling has been shown to decrease brain swelling and reduce loss of neurologic function after an acute stroke. It has also been proven highly effective in saving lives and preventing neurologic damage after cardiac arrest and after oxygen deprivation in newborns.

"The study is an exciting NIH-funded effort in advancing the most promising experimental stroke therapy - induced hypothermia - from the research lab to use in patients," said Dr. Thomas Hemmen, director of the UC San Diego Stroke Center and a co-principal investigator.

The study, set to run three and a half years, will enroll 400 patients.

- Steve Sinovic