Lund University Logo Treating a stroke may be limited to the hours after an attack. It is believed that the loss of brain function due to stroke remains permanent. Researchers from the Lund University claim to have discovered a substance that can aid in providing treatment up to two days after a stroke.

Thrombolysis appears are the only available acute treatment for a stroke. It presumably employs drugs that dissolve the blood clot responsible for the stroke, but reaches only 10 percent of stroke patients in time to prevent irreparable damage. Such patients probably have no other effective drugs to diminish the loss of brain function after a stroke. In this investigation, experts laid hands on a substance that strengthens the brain’s self-healing functions after a stroke.

Those experiencing stroke can possibly regain some lost function in the first six months. In the course of the research, scientists found a novel way to activate a protein in the brain known as the sigma-1 receptor. This protein may play a pivotal role in helping the brain recover during the critical period after the injury.

“After performing a genetic analysis of the rats that stayed in the normal cage and those that were in an enriched cage, we found that many genes were activated by the enriched environment. One of these genes coded for the protein sigma-1 receptor. We then injected the rats with a specific substance that activated the sigma-1 receptor and found that the rats regained their function more quickly than the untreated animals”, commented Professor Tadeusz Wieloch.

At the time of the research, rats were subjected to a stroke and then placed in different environments, like an enriched cage with extra stimulation in the form of several levels of tubes, beams and ladders, and a normal cage. Animals were placed in different environments to recreate and reinforce the brain’s natural response towards an enriched environment. On injecting the activating substance, brain repair is supposedly stimulated. In conclusion, it was mentioned that the protein sigma-1 receptor can help develop novel treatments for stroke patients.

The research is published in the journal Brain.