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Mitigate the effects of stroke by protecting proteins via nasal spray
According to doctors, around 270,000 people in Germany suffer a stroke every year. Prompt emergency treatment can save the lives of those affected and reduce long-term damage. Researchers are now reporting that damage after a brain infarction can be mitigated by "protective proteins" that are brought into the brain via a nasal spray.
Many deaths would be avoidable
Every year, more than a quarter of a million Germans suffer a stroke. This is one of the most common causes of death in Germany. According to experts, many deaths could be avoided if stroke symptoms were quickly recognized and those affected were given immediate care. In the future, a simple nasal spray could help treat brain infarction patients.
"Protective proteins" are introduced into the brain
With studies on the mouse model, scientists from the University of Heidelberg have shown that "protective proteins" can be introduced into the brain through the nose, which weaken the destruction of nerve cells after a stroke.
As stated in a communication, the researchers working with Prof. Dr. Hilmar Bading at the Interdisciplinary Center for Neuroscience (IZN) on the scientific basis for new forms of therapy that can be used to stop degenerative processes in humans.
The team of scientists focuses on the body's own neuroprotective mechanisms.
The most recent research results have been published in the "Molecular Therapy" magazine.
Brain activity counteracts nerve cell death
With previous work, the Heidelberg researchers have shown that brain activity counteracts nerve cell death.
"We know that activated nerve cells produce proteins that protect against cell death," said Prof. Bading.
According to the information, the NMDA receptor is of importance at the molecular level. If these receptors are not in the contact points of the nerve cells, the synapses, they can cause massive cell damage and cell death.
However, the toxic extra-synaptic NMDA receptors or the consequences of their activation can be suppressed.
The trigger for this suppression are the proteins Activin A and SerpinB2, whose production is triggered in the nervous system when the brain is active, as the researchers have found.
New perspectives for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases
As stated in the communication, the scientists investigated in this connection the question of how these protective proteins can be introduced “from outside” if their production using activated nerve cells is only possible to a limited extent, for example after a stroke.
Prof. Bading, in collaboration with Dr. Bettina Buchthal and Ursula Weiß show that nasal administration opens new perspectives for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
This is confirmed by the studies on the mouse model. Bading said mice with stroke had less brain damage in certain areas of the brain when treated this way.
Years will pass before clinical application
Prof. Bading emphasized that the researchers had thus created the scientific basis for a simple “nasal spray” with which the disease-related loss of nerve cells could be reduced.
"Unfortunately, it will still be many years before clinical use in humans, because a number of test phases have to be successfully completed before a new active ingredient can be approved as a drug," said Prof. Bading.
The scientist assumes that this "non-invasive and extraordinarily simple principle of therapy" is not only effective for acute brain damage such as a stroke.
It could also help with chronic neurodegenerative diseases that are associated with increased activation of extra-synaptic NMDA receptors, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease or Huntington's disease. (ad)