A possible way to reverse stroke damage

Created date

November 7th, 2016
depiction of brain scan

Scientists from the University of Southern California have tested a treatment in animal models that might translate into a future treatment for people who have had a stroke. 

Specifically, the experimental treatment may help prevent or reverse the permanent brain damage that can accompany ischemic strokes, the type responsible for 87% of strokes in the U.S.

In ischemic strokes, a blood clot obstructs a blood vessel in the brain, preventing oxygen from reaching tissue and thus resulting in the death of that area of the brain. As far as researchers can determine, once the brain cells are dead, they do not regenerate significantly, if at all.

Promising trial results

The new approach combines a compound currently being tested in a phase 2 trial with a stem cell grafting procedure. The compound, called 3K3A-APC is a protein that triggers neural stem cells to become functional nerve cells. When the researchers tested the compound on rodents that had sustained strokes, they found that they had 16 times more human stem cell-derived neurons than rodents treated with a placebo. More remarkably, the mice that had stroke-related impairments were almost back to normal functioning after about five weeks. 

The study authors say these results are novel and will likely be the gold standard for more research. In addition, they believe regenerative therapy will be the future standard for stroke management.