By Randy Blaun, published on January 1, 1999 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016
It's hard to watch a loved one struggling with the cruel aftershocks of stroke: loss of speech, memory, eyesight and movement. Unfortunately, while doctors can use TPA (tissue plasminogen activator) to dissolve stroke-causing clots, the drug doesn't interfere with the biochemical "stroke cascade" which causes mental and physical disability
Enter citicoline, a drug which may not only halt the stroke cascade but may protect and repair brain cell membranes. "We desperately need a safe drug to treat the hundreds of thousands of people who have strokes every year, and this may be it," says Richard Wurtman, M.D., professor of neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In a recent study of 394 stroke patients, 41% of those treated with 500 milligrams of citicoline daily for six weeks achieved an almost complete or complete recovery
Citicoline promotes synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning. This may explain why elderly folk who, pre-drug, had scored below average on verbal memory tests saw their scores rise when taking the medication, according to a study by MIT neuropsychologist Paul Spiers, Ph.D.
Already used in 20 countries to treat stroke, dementia and brain injury, citicoline could be approved by the FDA for stroke treatment here in mid-2000 if current trials go well.