A graduate student has won the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventing a treatment that might one day help limit brain damage during a stroke.
The winner, 27-year-old David Berry who's in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program, said one of his advisers "teaches that you should try and tackle the big problems, so when I was looking at these small problems I was trying to look at them in the scope of these bigger diseases," Berry said.
He invented a new protein that if administered in time, should give doctors more time to treat stroke patients. The new protein synthetically induces the combined effects of the coagulant heparin and another protein involved in forming new blood vessels.
If given within 24 hours of a stroke, the new protein should limit the amount of brain tissue damaged; if given after 24 hours, it should still improve a patient's rate of recovery, Berry believes.
Just one drug is federally approved for stroke treatment, and it must be given within three hours. Berry's stroke treatment has been patented and licensed and will soon enter clinical studies.
"I thought there had to be an alternative that could give victims and doctors more time and a better chance for recovery," said Berry, who grew up in Mount Kisco, N.Y.
There were about 15 to 20 candidates for this year's prize.
"In the end we chose him because he had the strongest creative work, bringing together ideas from different areas and combining them to create something new and different," said Merton Flemings, an MIT engineering professor and director of Lemelson-MIT program.
The Lemelson-MIT Program was established in 1994 by the late inventor Jerome H. Lemelson.