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New Drug Could Help Prevent Artery Disease in High-risk Patients

A recent study by researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine has shown that a protein inhibitor drug prevents these blockages, and could be a new therapeutic approach to prevent heart attack, stroke and other diseases caused by blocked blood vessels. Dec. 21, 2016- According to the American Heart Association, approximately 2,200 Americans die each day from heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. The most common cause is blocked blood vessels that can no longer supply oxygen and nutrients to the heart and brain. A recent study by researchers at the University of Missouri School of Medicine has shown that a protein inhibitor drug prevents these blockages, and could be a new therapeutic approach to prevent heart attack, stroke and other diseases caused by blocked blood vessels. William Fay, MD "Arteries are living hoses that narrow and enlarge in order to regulate blood flow to organs and muscles," said William Fay, MD, the J.W. and Lois Winifred Stafford Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and Cardiovascular Research at the MU School of Medicine and senior author of the study. "Smooth muscle cells in the artery regulate blood flow by constricting and relaxing. However, when chronic inflammation occurs in a blood vessel - typically in response to diabetes, high cholesterol and cigarette smoking - the smooth muscle cells in the walls of arteries change their behavior. They gradually accumulate inside the artery and narrow the blood vessel. In the case of coronary arteries, which supply blood to heart muscle cells, this process produces blockages that can lead to a heart attack." Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, or PAI-1, is a naturally occurring protein within blood vessels that controls cell migration. With diseases such as diabetes and obesity, [...]

There’s hope for reversing stroke-induced long-term disability

A human protein combined with stem cell therapy has been found to repair stroke damage to the brain, according to a new USC-led study on mice BY Zen Vuong AUGUST 22, 2016 Permanent brain damage from a stroke may be reversible thanks to a developing therapeutic technique, a USC-led study has found. The novel approach combines transplanted human stem cells with a special protein that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration already approved for clinical studies in new stroke patients. “This USC-led animal study could pave the way for a potential breakthrough in how we treat people who have experienced a stroke,” said Jim Koenig, a program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, which funded the research. “If the therapy works in humans, it could markedly accelerate the recovery of these patients.” Berislav Zlokovic, senior author of the Aug. 22 Nature Medicine study, and his colleagues identified a protein that spurs neural stem cells to become functional neurons: 3K3A-APC, a variant of the human protein “activated protein C.” The created compound is being tested as a neuroprotectant. Researchers in a National Institutes of Health-funded Phase II clinical trial administer 3K3A-APC to patients who have very recently (within a few hours) suffered from an ischemic stroke, when a clot blocks blood from reaching the brain. About 87 percent of all strokes are ischemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, Zlokovic, director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, said he and his colleagues are the first to use 3K3A-APC to produce neurons from human stem cells grafted into the stroke-damaged mouse brain. “We showed that 3K3A-APC helps the grafted stem cells convert into [...]

Stem cell therapy heals injured mouse brain

Monday, August 22, 2016 Animal study examines method for restoring brain cells killed by stroke or other neurological diseases. Scientists and clinicians have long dreamed of helping the injured brain repair itself by creating new neurons, and an innovative NIH-funded study published today in Nature Medicine may bring this goal much closer to reality. A team of researchers has developed a therapeutic technique that dramatically increases the production of nerve cells in mice with stroke-induced brain damage. The therapy relies on the combination of two methods that show promise as treatments for stroke-induced neurological injury. The first consists of surgically grafting human neural stem cells into the damaged area, where they mature into neurons and other brain cells. The second involves administering a compound called 3K3A-APC, which the scientists have shown helps neural stem cells grown in a petri dish develop into neurons. However, it was unclear what effect the molecule, derived from a human protein called activated protein-C (APC), would have in live animals. A month after their strokes, mice that had received both the stem cells and 3K3A-APC performed significantly better on tests of motor and sensory functions compared to mice that received neither or only one of the treatments. In addition, many more of the stem cells survived and matured into neurons in the mice given 3K3A-APC. “This USC-led animal study could pave the way for a potential breakthrough in how we treat people who have experienced a stroke,” added Jim Koenig, Ph.D., a program director at the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which funded the research. “If the therapy works in humans, it could markedly accelerate the recovery of these patients.” The researchers induced stroke-like brain damage [...]

Breakthrough in stem cell study could give hope to disabled stroke victims

Aug. 7, 2016 - Scotland - A PIONEERING new stem cell treatment could bring new hope to stroke sufferers with disabilities, a study suggests. As part of a medical trial by Scottish doctors, patients who had been disabled by a stroke took part in a procedure where their brains were injected with stem cells. Some then showed "significant" effects with some even regaining some movement and co-ordination as a result. The procedure was carried out on 11 male stroke victims in Glasgow who had volunteered after being left with long-lasting disabilities. The doctors say that the study prompts further investigation, and are now offering it to other patients as part of their trials. The trial was led by Professor Keith Muir of the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow and scientists from leading, clinical-stage stem cell business, ReNeuron. Professor Muir said in the Sunday Mail: "These were individuals who were strongly motivated to do something to get better as this was extreme brain surgery and experimental. "Their families were very supportive, as they recognised the restricted lives the patients were living, but they were also very anxious. "The main motive was to look at the safety of the procedure, but also how the patients got on afterwards. "We chose patients in whom we did not expect to see an improvement but nonetheless some of them did get a bit better and they stayed better. "That was enough for us to see that there is something here worth pursuing. "There were patients who did not experience any change. "But some reported changes, for example, in their ability to move their fingers, in their ability to balance and go from sitting to standing, [...]

Measuring damage to brain networks may aid stroke treatment, predict recovery

Functional MRI scans provide crucial data for stroke patients by Tamara Bhandari •July 11, 2016 JOSHUA SIEGEL Understanding the network of connections between brain regions — as depicted above — and how they are changed by a stroke, is crucial to understanding how stroke patients heal, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Close to half a million people survive strokes every year in the United States, and many are left with long-term disabilities. The options for treatment, after the damage is done, are limited, and predicting who will recover and how much is an elusive goal. Now, two new studies from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicate that current clinical practices may be missing a key aspect of stroke-induced brain damage. For some cognitive functions, such as memory and attention, the severity of a person’s disability correlates with the extent of disruption to the brain’s communication networks – something that is not measured by most brain scans. One study is published online the week of July 11 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The other is available online in the Annals of Neurology. “The holy grail of predicting stroke recovery is to develop an individualized algorithm that will reliably tell us, ‘This patient will recover 85 percent of his abilities and that patient only 55 percent,’” said Maurizio Corbetta, MD, the Norman J. Stupp Professor of Neurology and senior author on both studies. “If you’re trying to predict recovery for someone who has a sensory, motor or visual deficit, the scans we use today provide a lot of information. But if the patient has a memory or an attention deficit, the scans do not [...]

Stem Cell Research By Stanford Researchers Makes Stroke Patient Walk

By Dipannita- 05 Jun '16 08:22AM A team of Stanford researchers has been left "stunned" by the outcome of the experiment that they carried out on stroke patients. The researchers injected stem cells into the brain of the stroke patients and discovered that the experimental treatment restored the motor function in a few patients. The researchers initially conducted the study to see the safety of the treatment rather than its effectiveness. That is the reason why only 18 stroke patients were recruited as subjects. However, the study results mark a breakthrough in the field of medical sciences and have created a buzz among neuroscience experts. The findings challenge the most popular notion related to brain damage in stroke patients, according to which the damage occurred is permanent and irreversible. The study findings are expected to impact everyone's understanding of conditions and disorders related to the brain and the nervous system, including Alzheimer's, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury. The subjects who were recruited as a participant in the study had passed the initial six-month mark, which is generally considered as critical. That is, they had reached a plateau where no further improvement takes place and the brain circuits are either considered to be dead or beyond any repair. Each and every stroke patient has impaired leg or hand movement because of occurrence of stroke beneath the brain's outermost layer. A few participants had suffered stroke almost three to five years before the date of the experiment. The stem cells are injected as a part of one-time therapy. The researchers first drilled a hole in the subject's skull and then, stem cells were injected at multiple locations surrounding the area of the damage. The patients, who [...]

Molecule proves key to brain repair after stroke

Nov. 9, 2015 - NIH Research Matters At a Glance Scientists found that a molecule known as growth and differentiation factor 10 (GDF10) plays a key role in repair mechanisms following stroke. Insights from the study will inform future research into therapies to promote stroke recovery. Neurons that have been exposed to GDF10 grow more connections as a result.UCLA Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. Without oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood, brain cells start to die. Recovery after stroke depends on a process called axonal sprouting, in which healthy neurons send out new projections, or extensions. These “sprouts” generate new connections between brain cells or reestablish some of the connections that were lost or damaged during stroke, resulting in partial recovery. Previous studies suggested that a protein called growth and differentiation factor 10 (GDF10) was involved in the early stages of axonal sprouting. Dr. S. Thomas Carmichael and his colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, took a closer look at GDF10 to identify how it contributes to the process. Their work was supported in part by NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The findings were published online on October 26, 2015, in Nature Neuroscience. By examining animal models of stroke as well as brain tissue from human autopsies, the team found that GDF10 was activated very early after stroke. Using rodent neurons and human neurons derived from stem cells, the researchers showed that GDF10 stimulated axonal growth and increased the length of the axons. To see whether GDF10 is important for functional recovery after stroke, the researchers treated mouse models of stroke with GDF10 in a biopolymer hydrogel, which releases the protein to the site of injury over a [...]

Compound Found in Red Wine Causes Conflicting Changes in Dogs’ Immune Systems

Resveratrol research in dogs could eventually lead to treatments in humans Aug. 24, 2015 Nathan Hurst   COLUMBIA, Mo. – Resveratrol, a compound found commonly in grape skins and red wine, has been shown to have several potentially beneficial effects on health, including cardiovascular health, stroke prevention and cancer treatments. However, scientists do not yet fully understand how the chemical works and whether or not it can be used for treatment of diseases in humans and animals. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that resveratrol does affect the immune systems of dogs in different ways when introduced to dogs’ blood. Sandra Axiak-Bechtel, an assistant professor in oncology at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, said this is a first step in determining how the chemical causes immune systems to react. “This study makes it clear that resveratrol does cause the immune systems of dogs to change, but the changes it causes have created more questions,” Axiak-Bechtel said. “We found that resveratrol simultaneously causes dogs’ immune systems to increase and decrease in different ways. If we can better understand why resveratrol makes these changes and learn to control them, the chemical may have valuable uses in treatments of cancer and other diseases in dogs and humans.” For their study, Axiak-Bechtel; Rowena Woode, a veterinary medical student in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine; and Amy DeClue, an associate professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine; added resveratrol to canine blood and measured innate immune system function. They found that resveratrol caused the stimulated white blood cells to release more pro-inflammatory and fewer anti-inflammatory cytokines, which are signals cells use to communicate with each other during infection and inflammation. These cytokines point to [...]

Who to Treat with Statins

At a Glance Two studies found that recent cholesterol treatment guidelines are a cost-effective way to prevent cardiovascular disease. The results suggest that it might be cost effective to lower the threshold for treatment with statins even further. Atherosclerosis arises when fat, cholesterol, and other substances accumulate along artery walls and form a sticky buildup known as plaque. Left untreated, atherosclerosis can lead to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), which includes coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease. Lifestyle changes—such as quitting smoking, following a healthy diet, and being physically active—can help prevent or delay cardiovascular disease. Medicines such as statins, which decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, may be prescribed if lifestyle changes aren’t enough. Doctors may prescribe statins along with lifestyle changes to prevent or control cardiovascular disease. Image credit: Purestock/Thinkstock. In 2013, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, in collaboration with NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), released new clinical practice guidelines on cholesterol treatment to reduce ASCVD risk. Among the recommendations was that people 40 to 75 years of age without clinical ASCVD and diabetes should take statins if they have an LDL cholesterol level of 70 to 189 mg/dL and an estimated 10-year ASCVD risk of 7.5% or more. The guidelines also included methods for making this risk estimate. The threshold of 7.5% or higher seemed a low threshold to many experts. Two research teams supported by NHLBI recently examined this aspect of the guidelines. Their findings were published in 2 papers on July 14, 2015, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. A group led by Dr. Udo Hoffmann at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School studied whether the new guidelines improved the efficiency [...]

A First: New Guidelines Back Device for Treating Strokes

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 9:58am Marilynn Marchione, AP Chief Medical Writer This undated photo provided by Covidien shows their stent used to clear blood clots in the brain that cause strokes. The American Heart Association has endorsed using removable stents to open clogged arteries causing a stroke. It's the first new stroke treatment to be backed by the group in nearly 20 years and the first device ever recommended for this purpose. (Image: Stan Sholik/Covidien/Associated Press)Many stroke patients have a new treatment option -- if they seek help fast enough to get it. New guidelines endorse using a removable stent to open clogged arteries causing a stroke.The guidelines, issued Monday by the American Heart Association, are the first time the group has recommended a device for treating strokes, and it's the first new stroke treatment in two decades to win the group's strongest backing. The federal government no longer issues guidelines like these, so the Heart Association's advice clears the way for more doctors to offer the treatment. "It is pretty exciting," and many patients will benefit if they seek help when symptoms first appear, said the head of the guidelines panel, Dr. William J. Powers, neurology chief at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Most of the 800,000 strokes in the U.S. each year are caused by a blood clot lodged in the brain. The usual treatment is a clot-dissolving medicine called tPA, and it remains the first choice. But the drug must be given within 4 1/2 hours after symptoms start, and most people don't seek help in time. The drug also fails to work in one or two of every four cases, Powers said. The device is called a stent retriever. [...]