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This new treatment can heal the brain after stroke



A new study which involved antibody molecules being sprayed into the noses of rats, has shown to repair damage simulated to be like that caused by stroke.

It is believed that this process of repair was helped by the drugs travelling through nerve cells for smell.

This could open doors for what has previously been a challenge for treating stroke, as it shows a new way to deliver large drug molecules into the brain.

Previously, such drugs couldn’t reach the brain in large quantities due to the blood brain barrier which is created by the walls of the blood vessels that perfuse the brain, which are highly impermeable.

The have been some studies which have suggest that drug intake through the nose had a higher chance of reaching the brain, due to the nerve cells that detect smell, as they have long fibres that stretch from the nasal passages to the brain.

However, it was unclear whether enough of the molecules would be able to travel to the brain to have a medical benefits says study author Martin Schwab.

To test this method, Schwab and the rest of the research team examined nasal delivery of antibodies that block a compound in the brain called Nogo-A, which usually inhibits the growth of brain cells.

The effects of stroke were stimulated in rats by stopping blood from flowing to parts of their brains, the effects this had on the rats became clear when they began to struggle to reach through a hole for food pellets, which they could easily do beforehand.

The rats that received the nasal spray of antibodies once daily for two weeks showed improvement in reaching for food pellets by close to 60 per cent of their former ability by four weeks after their injury.

In comparison, animals that received a placebo treatment, the figure was close to 30 per cent.

When the research team examined the rat brains, they discovered that the treated rats had sprouted more new nerve fibres, Schwab says: “We have reached a level of antibodies that is effective in repairing a large stroke lesion. 

“It shows there’s a natural regenerative power within the brain and you just have to take the brakes off to let it happen.”

The full details of the study are available here.