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It’s a medical mixture of caffeine and alcohol, which sounds like the refined essence of an Irish coffee, except that it is given to patients intravenously and not by mouth. It has been in the news because researchers at the University of Texas Medical School led by Professor James Grotta have announced that a study has shown that it helps to limit the effect of strokes on the brain in elderly patients. It’s an interesting example of synergy, in which two compounds given together have an effect that neither has by itself. A full trial is needed to find the ideal mixture of caffeine and alcohol and study possible side-effects before it can be approved, but doctors are interested in it because there’s no equivalent existing treatment.

Researchers found that brain damage in rats was reduced by up to 80% if caffeinol was given within three hours of a stroke.

Guardian, 17 Apr. 2003

Prof Grotta said a “randomised, placebo-controlled trial” was needed to determine the extent of caffeinol’s protective effect in humans. He is also planning a study combining caffeinol with thermo-cooling in stroke patients. Other studies have suggested that cooling the brain might limit stroke damage.

The Mirror, 11 Apr. 2003

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 26 Apr. 2003

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 26 April 2003.