Brain Cell Survival Mode

Now this is neat! We’re often told how fragile brain cells are, which makes stroke and other oxygen depreciation stresses so dangerous. There might be some defense mechanisms in place:

It has been known for more than 85 years that some brain cells could withstand being starved of oxygen.

Scientists, writing in the journal Nature Medicine, have shown how these cells switch into survival mode.

They hope to one-day find a drug which uses the same trick to protect the whole brain…Experiments on rats showed that these surviving-cells started producing a protein called hamartin – which forces cells to conserve energy. They stop producing new proteins and break down existing ones to access the raw materials.

When the researchers prevented the cells from producing hamartin, they died just like other cells.

Prof 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.”

Their aim is to develop a drug that can produce the same effect, which could be given when an ambulance arrived. This would buy the brain time until clot-busting drugs could be given in hospital.

Very Cool!

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4 Responses to Brain Cell Survival Mode

  1. Jake says:

    Their aim is to develop a drug that can produce the same effect, which could be given when an ambulance arrived. This would buy the brain time until clot-busting drugs could be given in hospital.

    That. Would. Be. Awesome.

    Right now, the newest thing we’re doing is inducing post-resuscitation hypothermia in the field, which has a very significant effect on both survival-to-discharge and functional recovery after cardiac arrest, and lowers 6-month mortality rates. One study showed 49% survival-to-discharge with hypothermia compared to 26% without (ref.).

    If they could make this work, it would blow therapeutic hypothermia out of the water for my “want” factor. We see many more strokes than we do cardiac arrests where we actually get a pulse back. Plus, I bet the same therapy could be applied to cardiac arrests to further increase survival-to-discharge and functional recovery – if I understand correctly, most poor outcomes are a result of hypoxic brain injury, so the same principles would apply.

  2. Phssthpok says:

    I realize this a bit ‘simplistic’, but… if a (presumably IV administered) drug requires blood-flow to reach the part of the brain where it’s needed to prevent cell death due to lack of blood-flow….

  3. bluesun says:

    …and I immediately leaped into thinking about long-term space exploration.

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