A caffeine and alcohol cocktail similar to an Irish coffee could prevent severe brain damage in stroke victims, new research has revealed.

The experimental drug, called caffeinol, has the potency of two cups of strong coffee and a small shot of alcohol. When injected into rats within three hours of an artificially stimulated stroke, brain damage was cut by up to 80 per cent.

Neurologist James Grotta and colleagues from the University of Texas-Houston Medical School have also now demonstrated the safety of caffeinol in a small pilot study in patients who suffered ischaemic strokes, when the artery to the brain becomes blocked and cuts off the blood supply.