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Insights on stroke from the peripheral blood suggest ways to develop markers and therapies

Since scientists can not easily obtain brain tissue biopsies as people are having strokes, the development of rapid, high resolution brain imaging modalities was a big step forward in gaining a better understanding of the onset and progression of these often catastrophic events. Now scientists at the NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) are combining real-time imaging technology with yet another way of following what happens during a stroke. Using small blood samples taken from patients' arms during and immediately following strokes, the researchers have found white blood cell genetic changes they believe reflect the body's fighting response to the ongoing "brain attack" of an ischemic stroke.

About 80 percent of all strokes (the other 20 percent being hemorrhagic), ischemic strokes occur when the blood vessel is blocked, depriving brain tissue of blood and the oxygen carried by the blood. In a further finding, leaking antigens from the injured brain may stimulate increased numbers of a particularly toxic type of T cell lymphocyte, which can actually precipitate new strokes by causing damage to the lining of the blood vessels.

Dr. Alison Baird, of the NINDS Stroke Neuroscience Unit, presented the study at Experimental Biology 2004, as part of the scientific sessions of the American Association of Anatomists, one of the six sponsoring societies of this year's Experimental Biology meeting.

Dr. Baird says new insights from the peripheral blood into the pathology of stroke and the body's response to stroke may allow the development of surrogate biomarkers of stroke risk and prognosis and give information on new cellular and pathological mechanisms involved in the etiology and response to acute stroke, ultimately leading to new drug therapies or preventive vaccines.

Blood studies are infinitely faster and more practical than looking at brain tissue samples from biopsy or post-mortem, and have the added ad
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Contact: Sarah Goodwin
eb4press@bellsouth.net
770-270-0989
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
19-Apr-2004


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