Description of research
The brain is essential for almost all of our normal functions. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability and most commonly occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain. Damage to the brain that occurs during a stroke can result in significant disability and sometimes death.
Inflammation is an important defence mechanism that the body uses in response to injury or infection. However, it can also be highly damaging to the body and contribute to disease. In the case of stroke, inflammation inside and outside of the brain has been shown to cause additional damage to the brain early after the stroke has happened. A molecule called interleukin-1 (or IL-1 for short) is produced by brain cells during the stroke and goes on to kill other brain cells.
A new type of adult stem cell called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has the potential to improve recovery after stroke. Previous research has found that the environment of MSCs can be modified and IL-1 used to make them better at protecting the brain and stimulating repair and recovery after a stroke.
The current study aims to exploit these recent discoveries by testing whether MSCs can limit inflammation, repair the brain and recover normal brain functions after stroke using clinically relevant mouse models (which can mimic the conditions of a stroke in humans).
It is hoped that this research could lead to the use of modified MSCs in future stroke therapies in patients.