Brain Damage from Stroke Reduced with Natural Protein Given up to 12 Hours Later

Catharine Paddock, PhD

Giving mice a naturally occurring protein called alpha-B-crystallin that is made in the body, shrank brain lesions caused by stroke, even when treated 12 hours after the event, according to a new study by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers published early online today, 26 July, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study is important because it gives hope that the window of treatment can be extended, since the only approved current drug, a clot-buster, has to be given within 4.5 hours and then only after patients have undergone a scan to make sure the cause is a clot and not bleeding.

The protein slows down the immune system by lowering levels of molecules that can damage the brain more than the initial damage caused by the oxygen starvation of a stroke.

Stroke is the leading cause of neurological disability and the third biggest killer in the US, where there are 800,000 new stroke patients every year, "that's one every 40 seconds," said co-senior author Dr Gary Steinberg, director of Stanford's Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences.

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