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New insight could boost stroke treatment

New insight could boost stroke treatment
30th March 2016

Maintaining independence and leading a fulfilling life can become more of a challenge as people get older, especially if they become isolated at home or sustain an injury. This can be far more complicated if the person has a disability that affects their ability to perform everyday tasks.

One of the biggest causes of disability in adults is strokes. However, spotting the very early signs that someone is about to sustain a stroke and ensuring they get the right treatment can make a massive difference to their long-term health.

A new method could make it easier to see the areas of the brain that are affected by such a trauma, and could even lead to techniques to prevent damage.

MRI scanners, which are commonly used to look at the impact of a stroke to the brain, only allow doctors to see a general view of the brain. This normally helps to locate the blockage that has caused the stroke, which then ensures effective treatment can be delivered. However, it doesn't help to prevent the problem occurring in the first place.

Researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) School of Medicine developed a method to give doctors a far more insightful view of a brain during a stroke.

Led by Professor Zezong Gu, associate professor of pathology and anatomical sciences at the MU School of Medicine, the study looked to track activity of specific enzymes - gelatinase.

These enzymes flood to the area of a brain affected by a stroke and are often the cause of damage.

The team hoped that being able to track this activity would lead to the creation of a treatment that is able to stop these enzymes and even prevent brain damage.

By developing a system to tag peptides in the brain, the team were able to track the gelatinase activity. Professor Gu said these findings could also lead to better understanding about other brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

The team will now look to create a way to inhibit the enzymes and prevent brain damage.

The study was published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism.

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