Protective molecule to prevent brain damage after injury identified
Washington, May 16 (ANI): A new study has discovered a protective molecule in the brain, which if used artificially, may prevent brain damage from the likes of stroke, head injury and Alzheimer's.
By looking at what happens in the brain after an injury, new research has finally ended speculation over whether a key molecule, 'KCC2' causes brain cell death after an injury or prevents it.
The finding now opens the door to the development of artificial forms of the compound, which could provide 'neuroprotection' to those who have suffered a brain injury - to prevent further damage.
Lead author of the research Igor Medina from the Universite de la Mediterranee said: "Neuron damage can result from acute events such as stroke, epilepsy or head injury or by chronic degeneration found in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
"When brain tissue is damaged, cells often continue to die after the initial stimulus has stopped. So it is important to find a way of stopping this cascade of cell death."
KCC2 is known as a 'neuronal membrane transporter' and plays a valuable role in regulating brain cell growth and their connections with other neurons.
The team studied damaged neurons from the hippocampus region of the brain, an area responsible for attention, spatial memory and navigation. They removed KCC2 altogether from damaged cells and found they died. But when they artificially increased the levels of KCC2 (by stimulating its expression using gene therapy), they found the damaged cells were protected from further damage, and death.
Medina continued: "The death of neurons in the brain can be triggered by an imbalance of oxygen - known as oxidative damage, or where cells are incorrectly instructed to die by a neurotransmitter - a process known as excitotoxicity. KCC2 protects against both. It's really encouraging that we have identified a means of potentially protecting the brain from these common conditions."
The study was recently published in the Journal of Physiology. (ANI)
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