PROOF 2022

Improving treatment options for stroke 

We joined the EU-funded PROOF stroke research project in 2017 as it felt that it would help expand the treatment options for stroke patients.  

Here Assistant Professor Dr Sven Poli, University of Tübingen, Germany, tells us about his vision for the project. 

Dr Poli – what is the research about? 

An ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke. It happens when the arteries that supply the brain with blood become clogged by clots. This prevents oxygen from reaching the brain cells where the blockage has happened. The longer the brain suffers from oxygen deprivation, the more serious the consequences, the more brain tissue will die and the greater the post-stroke disability the person may suffer. Emergency treatment must therefore get rid of the blocked arteries as quickly as possible. 

Starting in January 2017, the PROOF study, conducted at 21 stroke expert centres in eight European countries, investigates whether the consequences of an ischemic stroke can be reduced by applying a high-dose oxygen therapy early on. 

The high-dose oxygen therapy is very simple and low-cost. The patients, after having been diagnosed with an ischemic stroke after their scan, wear a mask through which they inhale almost pure oxygen. This keeps the oxygen content in the blood six-fold higher than when breathing air. Oxygenation continues until the clot is removed and the blood circulation is improved again.  

Dr Poli – what results do you have so far? 

Our project started in 2017 and almost 160 stroke patients have been recruited in the trial in the participating centres across Europe so far. Once the enrolment reaches 160 patients, an interim analysis will show the first results.  

What we can see so far is that the study procedures are easy to handle and the patients do not seem to experience any discomfort from the application of the high flow oxygen. In fact, when we tried it ourselves, we found that the high-dose oxygen administration was easy to “breath” and not very different from the routine administration. 

Dr Poli – this sounds very exciting, what will this research mean for stroke patients? 

If PROOF proves that the brain tissue at risk can be stabilised and saved by early administration of oxygen, then this therapy would bring great benefits for all stroke patients especially also to patients who are not near a clinic where a stroke can be treated and who have longer access times to emergency care.  

Increasing the oxygen in the blood supply could protect the tissue at risk until the circulation is reestablished. As it is a very cheap and simple treatment it has great potential to also improve stroke treatment in poor countries. 

For more on the trial click here:

PROOF has received funding from the European’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 73337.