BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Diaspirin cross-linked hemoglobin (DCLHb) is a purified, cell-free human hemoglobin solution. In animal stroke models its use led to a significant reduction in the extent of brain injury. The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the safety of DCLHb in patients with acute ischemic stroke. METHODS DCLHb or saline was administered to 85 patients with
acute ischemic stroke in the anterior circulation, within 18 hours of onset of symptoms, in a multicenter, randomized, single-blind, dose-finding, controlled safety trial, consisting of 3 parts: 12 doses of 25, 50, and 100 mg/kg DCLHb over 72 hours. RESULTS DCLHb caused a rapid rise in mean arterial blood pressure. The pressor effect was not accompanied by complications or excessive need for antihypertensive treatment. Two patients in the 100 mg/kg group had adverse events that were possibly drug related: one suffered fatal brain and pulmonary edema, the other transient renal and pancreatic insufficiency. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that a severe stroke at baseline and treatment with DCLHb (OR, 4.0; CI, 1.4 to 12.0) were independent predictors of a worse outcome (Rankin Scale score of 3 to 6) at 3 months. CONCLUSIONS Outcome scale scores were worse in the DCLHb group, and more serious adverse events and deaths occurred in DCLHb-treated patients than in control patients. We recommend that additional safety studies be performed, preferably with a second generation, genetically engineered hemoglobin.