Dean Guy Reed shares story behind clot-busting drug

Guy Reed, dean of the UA College of Medicine Phoenix, quizzes attendees of the Sept. 14, 2017 Mini Med lecture about the parts of a sheep's brain. (Nicole Neri/DD)

The dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix shared the story behind the development of his new clot-busting drug for stroke victims at the school’s monthly Mini-Medical School event Wednesday.

Dean Guy Reed said the inspiration behind the development of this drug came from one of his stroke patients.

Reed’s patient came to him with all the symptoms of a stroke, but he had no way to reverse the degeneration of the brain in stroke victims. His patient died shortly after arrival.

This patient motivated him to assemble a research team with one simple goal: find a way to help stroke victims.

“To me it goes back to the patients, a patient I couldn’t do anything for, and that just wasn’t acceptable,” Reed said.

The molecule that makes the drug work, called TS23, is a blood clot dissolving agent that is designed to stop the formation of blood clots in the brains of stroke patients.

The drug is currently in the trial phase of testing, but Reed said he is hopeful it will be available in the future.

Kathy Anderson, whose husband recently suffered from a stroke, attended the event with hopes of gaining more knowledge about Reed’s research findings.

“I wish they would hurry up and get it on the market,” said Anderson.

Reed also explained why he believes his stroke research is important to the medical community.

He said every year nearly 17 million people are affected by a stroke worldwide and of those 17 million about five million die from their stroke.

Reed said his team kept those statistics in mind during their research.

Sophomore medical student Dylan Sabb slides a sheep’s brain that he had just sliced in half into its bag at University of Arizona’s Mini Med lecture Sept. 14, 2017. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Once they found the molecule responsible for creating blood clots in the human body, they moved on to creating the drug.

With that information they were able to develop an antibody that would block the molecule from causing clots. That crucial antibody is the TS23.

After numerous studies on lab rats, the team was able to come to conclude that their molecule was responsible for dissolving blood clots in the body.

“If you can show the relationship between something and an outcome, that’s a way to prove causation,” Reed said.

The purpose of the College of Medicine’s Mini-Medical School seminars is to inform people about current breakthroughs, like Reed’s, that are happening at the University of Arizona.

The seminars began at the opening of the College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix, and have been happening monthly in the fall and spring ever since.

April Fischer, program coordinator for marketing and communications for the medical school, said the seminars are a way the University of Arizona showcases their medical experts and the research they are doing.

“It’s a great way to have the community engage and to learn something, especially for U of A, it’s just a great opportunity,” Fischer said.

After Reed’s lecture, the audience members had the opportunity to dissect a sheep’s brain.

A sheep’s brain sits on an absorbent pad, ready for attendees of University of Arizona’s Sept. 14, 2017 Mini Med lecture to dissect.(Nicole Neri/DD)

Dylan Sabb, a second-year medical student at the university, explained step-by-step how to identify the lobes in the sheep’s brain, and what they are responsible for.

Contact the reporter at Ashley.Musil@asu.edu.