TORONTO - Newly reported Canadian research is holding out hope that a treatment for minimizing the damage done by a stroke could be on the horizon.

A Toronto-based research team is reporting in the journal Nature that an experimental drug significantly reduced brain damage and post-stroke impairment when used in macaque monkeys.

The research team reported at a recent scientific conference that preliminary clinical trials of the drug have already been done in humans, with quite favourable results.

Lead author Dr. Michael Tymianski says a large clinical trial in humans will need to be done, but to date the drug looks promising as a neuroprotector -- a therapy to protect the brain from a stroke caused by lack of blood flow.

Dr. Stephen Phillips, a Halifax neurologist who wasn't involved in the study, says the work is exciting because the need for treatments to limit the damage done by strokes is enormous.

But Phillips says many compounds that have worked as neuroprotectors in rats have failed to protect in humans, so the field will view these results with caution.