MACH welcomes the recent Federal Government announcement of $40 million from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Frontier Health and Medical Research Initiative to develop The Stroke Golden Hour project, which will transform diagnosis and treatment of stroke.

Bringing together the work of 30 organisations under the banner of the Australian Stroke Alliance, (which includes the University of Melbourne) the project will develop and implement lightweight brain imaging devices that can be carried in road, helicopter and jet ambulances. This will enable rapid diagnosis and treatment to stroke patients across metropolitan, regional and rural Australia.

MACH Executive Director Prof Sir John Savill is pleased to reconfirm MACH’s support of the project.

“Led by Professors Geoffrey Donnan and Stephen Davis, The Stroke Golden Hour project aligns with MACH’s particular focus on growing capability in transformative technological and digital approaches, building on investment in virtual care and informatics for the benefit of both patients and the economy.”

In 2019, A/Prof Andrew Bivard was awarded MRFF Rapid Applied Research Translation (RART) scheme funding through the MACH to lead a project Tenecteplase versus Alteplase for Stroke Thrombolysis Evaluation Trial in the Ambulance (TASTEa) with The Stroke Golden Hour team. The trial, expected to be completed later this year, aims to identify if early administration of a newer thrombolytic agent, tenecteplase, prior to hospital in Mobile Stroke Units (MSUs) can improve outcomes from ischemic stroke, and reduce costs compared to standard care of alteplase. These CT-capable ambulances allow assessment and treatment of stroke patients in the pre-hospital setting.

Treatment for ischemic stroke, a major health burden for which effective and accessible drug therapies remain limited, is time critical and significantly more effective if administered within the first 90 minutes of symptom onset. The effectiveness of treatment is much greater if given as close to the onset of stroke as possible.

‘The new Golden Hour program allows us to take treatment for stroke to the patient,’ says A/Prof Bivard, who is working with MSU medical teams to accurately and rapidly diagnose patients.

‘It’s been shown time and time again that earlier treatment of stroke leads to better individual patient outcomes, so by developing new low cost, light weight technology which can be used to positively identify a stroke outside of hospital, we are looking to take the hospital to the patient.’

‘Most importantly, the program is targeting the most underserviced group of patients, those living in rural and regional areas’ says A/Prof Bivard.

‘This program stands a very good chance of improving the lives of thousands of stroke patients over the coming decades and should influence international clinical practice.’

MACH joins its partners in thanking the Federal Government for its support and looks forward to seeing further developments to improve treatment for stroke patients into the future as a result.