Researchers explore gene that can speed up brain-healing after a stroke
Researchers have found that a dose of the TRIM9 gene could facilitate the brain-healing after a stroke. Also, the gene could reduce the damage caused in concussion and encephalitis as well. The study published in the journal Cell Reports described a key gene, TRIM9, involved with compressing inflammation in the brain, as well as what happens when the injured brain gets an added boost of that gene.
When a person has a stroke, the brain responds with inflammation, which expands the area of injury and leads to more disability. The gene, TRIM9, is abundant in the youthful brain but grows scarce with age, just when people become more at risk from stroke.
In a lab model of stroke, researchers found that older brains with low TRIM9 levels, or engineered brains missing the TRIM9 gene entirely, were prone to extensive swelling following a stroke. But when the scientists used a harmless virus to carry a dose of the gene directly into TRIM9-deficient brains, the swelling decreased dramatically and recovery improved.
Jae Jung, lead author of the study said, "It's unlikely that gene therapy delivered by viruses will become the go-to treatment for strokes, head injuries or encephalitis. It's too slow and the best shot at treating stroke is within the first 30 minutes to one hour." Jung informed that the next step will be identifying what, exactly, flips on the switch for TRIM9 gene expression.
"Maybe there will be a way to chemically activate TRIM9 right after a stroke. Or maybe a football player can take a medication that turns on TRIM9 gene expression right after they get a blow to the head," Jung added. Not all inflammation in the brain is bad, Jung added. Inflammation plays a role in fighting infection and helps clear away dead tissue. But when it goes on too long, neurons die; inflammation causes the brain's blood vessels to become permeable, allowing white blood cells to enter tissue where they don't belong.
(With inputs from agencies.)