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Stroke remains a leading cause of death and disability throughout the world, and both associated human suffering and financial costs are overwhelming .Stroke and other conditions related to a decreased oxygen supply to the brain are the third most common cause of death in Europe. One out of three stroke incidents lead to permanent damage, and stroke is a major cause of adult disability. Given that age is one of the most defined risk factors for stroke the increasing ageing of the European population implies a growing number of people are at risk.

Finding a new treatment to stroke

In the EU-funded research project COUNTERSTROKE, leading specialist collaborate to develop novel therapeutics to treat stroke. The COUNTERSTROKE consortium, which consists of six European research institutions and companies from Germany, Sweden, the UK and Italy, is going to develop molecules targeting the pro-inflammatory protein HMGB1. The aim is to bring a new treatment principle against stroke to clinical reality.

3D schematic of the HMGB-1 molecule

Our vision:

To lead discovery and development of novel therapies using state of the art technology in HMGB-1 research in order to develop novel treatment strategies against cardiovascular diseases of the brain.


Blood clot dissolution using recombinant tissue plasminogen activator is the only pharmacological treatment demonstrated to limit neurological damage in acute stroke, but this is only effective for patients who present within 3 hours after onset of ischemic stroke. Thus there is an unmet need for an efficacious therapy that can be administered instantly, as well as beyond 3 hours, to achieve neuroprotection in addition to thrombolysis. Our overall hypothesis is that the secondary neuroinflammation caused by ischemic tissue damage due to a thrombotic or a hemorrhagic event can be successfully modulated therapeutically by targeting the endogenous protein HMGB1 using Affibody® molecules

Affibody® molecules are a novel class of antibody mimetics with superior characteristics surpassing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and antibody fragments. The company has created a large library consisting of more than ten billion Affibody® molecules, all with unique binding sites, from which binders to given targets are selected. Affibody® molecules are only 6 kDa in size, have an inert format (no Fc function), and have already successfully been tested in humans as targeting moiety. In addition, the inherent properties of Affibody® molecules hold promise for more efficacious blocking by using multi-specific constructs.

The EU project “COUNTERSTROKE” is a collaborative project of the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union with the Grant Agreement No.: FP7-HEALTH-2013-602354.