New Stroke Treatment: Astrocytes Protect Brain Tissue

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Could the human brain hold the treatment for stroke? Image by Helmut Januschka

Could the human brain hold the treatment for stroke? Image by Helmut Januschka

A stroke occurs when blood flow to your brain is cut off.  The key to making the best stroke recovery as possible is fast treatment, and researchers have found a potential new way to treat the aftereffects of stroke.

Possible Stroke Treatment

Could it be that the treatment to stroke lies within the brain itself? Possibly: Researchers found that astrocytes, star-shaped neuroglial cells in the brain and spinal cord, can protect brain tissue and reduce disability that is caused by a stroke or other ischemic brain disorders.

The researchers used a protein that turns genes on, known as Olig2, to differentiate human embryonic stem cells into astrocytes.

This produced a new type of astrocytes called Olgi2PC-Astros.

The researchers then compared treatment with Olig2PC-Astros, treatment with another type of astrocytes called NPC-Astros, and no treatment on three groups of rats that had ischemic brain injuries.

The group of rats that had the transplant of Olig2PC-Astros had better brain protection and showed a higher level of a protein that is associated with nerve growth and survival.

The rats with no treatment and those treated with NPC-Astros had much higher levels of lost neurons.

To determine if the Olig2PC-Astros impacted behavior, researchers used a water maze that required the rats to navigate the maze based on memory and not on sight. Fourteen days after treatment, the rats with Olig2PC-Astros reached the end of the maze in less time then the rats who were treated with NPC-Astros and those who didn’t receive treatment.

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