In the treatment of stroke, there is currently only a three-hour "window of therapeutic opportunity" to prevent additional brain cell damage and only one medication approved to improve blood flow to oxygen-deprived neurons near the injury, thereby minimizing potentially debilitating side effects.
Now, scientists from Northwestern University report that a single injection of a chemical they created -- given up to six hours after brain injury or stroke -- protects against additional brain cell death for a week or longer. An article describing the new compound and its activity in the body appears in the September online issue of the Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters.
The compound inhibits activity of an enzyme called death-associated protein kinase (DAPK), known to be an early player in the chain of molecular events leading to apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Earlier studies showed that levels of DAPK increase markedly prior to neuron death and that apoptosis increases rapidly hours after the onset of a stroke in laboratory models.
Elizabeth Crown | EurekAlert!
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