Brain can shield itself from stroke25th February 2013
Researchers at Oxford University have been able to explain why certain cells in the brain are able to protect themselves from the damaging effects of a stroke.
The team, who published their findings in the Nature Medicine journal, said they hoped their discoveries could be used to create medication which would shield the whole brain from damage.
Sine 1926, scientists have known that there were some cells in the hippocampus which remained undamaged by a stroke.
When a stroke occurs, blood clots stop oxygen and sugar flowing, which results in cell death.
Professor Alastair Buchan from Oxford University said: "They're [hippocampus cells] staying alive when the prediction would say that they should die."
The team carried out experiments on rats which revealed that the cells in the hippocampus began to produce a protein called hamartin, which made them "conserve energy".
They found if the cells were stopped from making the protein, they died like other cells in the brain.
Professor Buchan said: "We have shown for the first time that the brain has mechanisms that it can use to protect itself and keep brain cells alive."
He told BBC News Online that the aim of their research was to investigate "ways to keep brain cells alive", which could have an impact on treatments for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
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