Targeting neuroprotection clinical trials to ischemic stroke patients with potential to benefit from therapy

CJ Weir, M Kaste, KR Lees, GAIN Intl Steering Comm & Investig

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Background and Purpose-Clinical trials of neuroprotective drugs have had limited success. We investigated whether selecting patients according to prognostic features would improve the statistical power of a trial to identify an efficacious treatment.

Methods-Using placebo data from the Glycine Antagonist in Neuroprotection ( GAIN) International and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) clinical trials, we developed and validated simple prognostic models for stroke trial end points: Barthel Index greater than or equal to95, modified Rankin Scale less than or equal to1, National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale less than or equal to1, and Glasgow Outcome Scale=1. Using these models, we simulated 1000 clinical trials and estimated, under several hypothetical treatment effect patterns of neuroprotection, the effect on statistical power of including only patients with moderate prognosis. We calculated the number of patients that would have to be enrolled to maintain the statistical power achieved in selecting the whole trial population. Reanalysis of actual data from the NINDS rtPA trials confirmed the results independently.

Results-Selecting patients with moderate prognosis (predicted probability of favorable outcome 0.2 to 0.8) enabled a sample size reduction, without loss of statistical power, of between 54.6% (51.3% to 57.6%) and 68.6% (66.0% to 71.1%), depending on the treatment effect pattern and outcome measure. These benefits were largely due to the exclusion of patients with poor prognosis.

Conclusions-Targeting patients with potential to benefit enables a substantial sample size reduction without compromising statistical power or duration of recruitment. As part of a broader trial design strategy, informed use of prognostic data available acutely would help in identifying effective neuroprotective treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2111-2116
Number of pages6
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004


  • clinical trials
  • neuroprotection
  • prognosis

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