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Antioxidant Molecule Could Help Minimize Stroke-Linked Brain Damage

A novel peptide discovered by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College could prove a potent weapon against stroke, a new study// finds.

The compound, called SS31, is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and inhibit an oxidative stress molecule recently linked to stroke-related tissue damage.

"In our experiments, we found that exposing mice to SS31 after an induced ischemic stroke led to a much smaller area of brain tissue being affected," says the study's lead author Dr. Sunghee Cho, assistant research professor of neuroscience at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Cho is also assistant professor of neurology/neuroscience and director of preclinical stroke modeling at the Burke Medical Research Institute in White Plains, N.Y.

The new study suggests that SS31 works by inhibiting the activity of CD36, a "scavenger" receptor that Dr. Cho and her colleagues in the Department of Neurology/Neurobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College have previously linked to stroke-induced tissue damage.

The findings were recently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Each year, millions of Americans are affected by strokes or "transient ischemic attacks," otherwise called "mini-strokes." Damage to brain tissue occurs not just during the blockage itself, but after the blockage is cleared, as blood rushes back to the site in a process known as reperfusion.

"Reperfusion creates a lot of oxidative stress and related damage to neural tissues," explains study senior author Dr. John Pinto, a research scientist at Burke. "A lot of that damage seems to be caused by a heightened activity of CD36."

So, the question was: Is there a molecule that can reach the stroke site and keep CD36 from acting as it does

Luckily, another researcher at Weill Cornell, professor of pharmacology Dr. Hazel Szeto, had already developed a candidate antioxidant peptide, SS31. Dr. Szeto is a co-researcher on
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