Roger Thompson and Nicholas Weilinger, researchers at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine, have found a way to stop brain cell damage during strokes according to the research published this week.
Neurons in our brain naturally release a chemical called Glutimate, but during a stroke the neurons lose control of how much glutamate they release. With too much glutamate in the brain the neurons become overstimulated, causing them to die. Neuron death is what leads to disability in stroke patients.
Thompson and Weilinger made a discovery of a new signaling pathway that has the potential to help researchers understand how to protect the brain and hault neuron death during a stroke.
The University of Calgary study used this new information to develop and test a drug on rats. As a part of the study, rats performed a skilled task following a stroke. Over several weeks, researchers noted that the rats that were given the novel drug were better able to perform the given task over rats who had not received the drug.
Future steps for the study include further animal studies and toxicity testing, and perhaps, down the road, clinical trials.
Understanding that the drug at this point is novel, scientists are very enthusiastic about this kind of research as it shows how understanding of how the brain signals can ultimately lead to better patient outcomes.
The study was published this week in the journal of Nature Neuroscience.