Irvine, Calif., Jan. 12, 2010 People with impaired mobility after a stroke soon may have a therapy that restores limb function long after the injury, if a supplemental protein works as well in humans as it does in paralyzed rats.
Two new studies by UC Irvine biologists have found that a protein naturally occurring in humans restores motor function in rats after a stroke. Administered directly to the brain, the protein restores 99 percent of lost movement; if it's given through the nose, 70 percent of lost movement is regained. Untreated rats improve by only 30 percent.
"No drugs exist that will help a stroke after a few days. If you have a stroke, you don't have many treatment options," said James Fallon, psychiatry & human behavior professor and senior co-author of the studies. "Now we have evidence there may be therapies that can repair damage to a significant degree long after the stroke. It's a completely unexpected and remarkable finding, and it's worth trying in humans."
The studies, carried out by UCI postdoctoral researcher Magda Guerra-Crespo, chronicle the success of a small protein called transforming growth factor alpha, which plays critical tissue-forming and developmental roles in humans from just after conception through birth and into old age.
"TGF alpha has been studied for two decades in other organ systems but never before has been shown to reverse the symptoms of a stroke," Guerra-Crespo said. No lasting side effects were observed.
In the first study, published in the journal Neuroscience, scientists sought to learn whether TGF alpha administered directly to the brain could help rats with stroke-induced loss of limb function, typically on one side as is seen in humans.
When put inside a cylinder, healthy rats will jump up with both front legs, but stroke-impaired rats will use just one leg, favoring the injured side. When given a choice of directions to walk, impaired rats will move tow
|Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger|
University of California - Irvine