Scientists say they have made a discovery which could be helpful in developing treatments to assist the recovery of stroke patients or individuals who have had heart attacks.
The researchers state they have generated an insight into the structure of calpain, which is an enzyme that can become dangerously overactive after major cardiovascular events, according to findings published in the online Nature journal.
It may therefore be useful for the development of drugs which focus on protecting against the damage caused by unusually high levels of the enzyme.
"This is particularly exciting because the enzyme structure we were seeking, and the way its inhibitor blocks activity without itself being damaged, have proved so elusive until now," comments lead researcher Peter Davies of Queen's University.
PhD student Rachel Hanna, another researcher, adds that the team worked shifts around the clock and it was therefore "very exciting" when they obtained the data they were looking for.
Meanwhile separate US research into the blood-thinning drug warfarin - which may be given to patients after a stroke - had found people are less likely to experience major problems if they are given more information on how to use the medicine.
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