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Source: University of British Columbia  Mar 15, 2019  5 years, 1 month, 4 days, 15 hours, 27 minutes ago

Novel approach to stroke treatment could reduce brain damage

Novel approach to stroke treatment could reduce brain damage
Source: University of British Columbia  Mar 15, 2019  5 years, 1 month, 4 days, 15 hours, 27 minutes ago

A new treatment for a common type of stroke may soon be possible, thanks to a discovery by an international team of researchers led by the University of British Columbia.

novel approach

In a study published today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, researchers successfully used a new approach that significantly minimized brain damage caused by stroke in mouse models. The new approach works by targeting hemichannels--pathways that allow for the flow of chemical ions and small molecules--that are expressed by astrocytes, cells that play a protective role for neurons in the brain.

When stroke occurs, these hemichannels open and can leak toxic molecules into the space outside the astrocytes, causing inflammation and damage to neurons.

"Our study definitively confirms that hemichannels are detrimental in stroke, and that we can block them to minimize damage to the brain," said lead author Moises Freitas-Andrade, who conducted this study as a postdoctoral research fellow at UBC and currently is a research fellow at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. "It's a different approach to stroke treatment. A lot of previous research has focused on trying to protect neurons, but here we sought a way to enhance the astrocyte's ability to protect neurons in stroke."

The researchers focused specifically on ischemic strokes, which occur when the arteries to the brain become narrowed or blocked, resulting in severely reduced blood flow. Ischemic stroke is the most common type, accounting for about 80 per cent of all strokes, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

For the study, the researchers used a genetic approach that mutated the channel proteins, called connexins, in such a way that blocks the formation of hemichannels. This allows the astrocytes to protect the neurons, sign