Treating stroke is all a matter of timing: therapy delivered too late misses the critical window when neurons can still be saved. A report by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers shows that cooling the brain can lengthen the therapeutic window, giving doctors more time to protect brain cells.
The idea of cooling the brain isnt new. Study leader Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD, the Lacroute-Hearst Professor of Neurosurgery and the Neurosciences, said he started cooling brains during brain surgery in 1991. For some types of surgeries, a brain thats 4 degrees cooler than normal seems to resist injury better than a brain at normal body temperature.
In collaboration with Robert Sapolsky, PhD, the John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor of Biological Sciences, Steinberg has combined this cooling treatment with a form of gene therapy. Together the approaches work better than either technique on its own to save neurons after a stroke. Whats more, cooling the brains in rats slowed the neurons demise, giving researchers more time to administer additional treatment.
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