Swiss research could help combat strokes

Strokes often result in severe disability or death. Keystone

Basel researchers have discovered a key element that could help the brain regenerate after a stroke. 

This content was published on September 4, 2019 - 19:13
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Researchers at the University of Basel, the University Hospital and University Children’s Hospital of Basel have identified a protein in mice that plays a key role in preventing permanent damage after the brain is deprived of oxygen as in a stroke. Their findings are presented on Wednesday in the journal "Nature Communications".

Acute oxygen deficiency to the brain, which can occur at any age, ends in one third of cases with severe disabilities or death.

The researchers started from the observation that in infants with severe oxygen deficiency during delivery, permanent damage can be reduced or prevented by cooling their brains to about 33 degrees Celsius. This treatment has side effects that make it difficult to use for adults after a stroke, the researchers said. However, it is possible to use the same signalling pathways as those triggered by cold to protect adults from permanent brain damage.

To this end, the researchers focused on the role of a protein called RBM3, whose production increases in cells exposed to low temperatures. In their study on mice, the scientists were able to demonstrate that RBM3 plays a key role in the survival and proliferation of neural stem cells in the brain after a stroke.

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