[ASC-media] Reducing the killing power of strokes

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Sun Aug 20 16:15:38 CEST 2006

Embargo 10am Monday 21 August

A research team at the University of Adelaide has found a way to reduce brain swelling, the most common cause of death after stroke.

Studies by doctoral student Renée Turner in the Department of Pathology have shown that swelling in the brain seems to mimic a similar process in the skin, and may well be amenable to treatment with drugs, although these are yet to be developed.

"This potentially provides the first new clinical pathway to reducing brain swelling in 50 years," Turner says. 

"It should improve the chances of survival after a stroke and reduce the risk of long-term disabilities." 

About 48,000 episodes of stroke occur in Australia each year, one every 11 minutes.

Brain swelling or oedema is a common complication of stroke. It occurs when water accumulates in the brain, causing compression and eventually death of brain tissue. The mechanism in the brain is unclear. But in the skin, a similar process known as neurogenic inflammation is triggered by nerve cells. This results in increased leakiness of blood vessels and water accumulation in the skin tissue.

A compound known as substance P has been shown to contribute to this swelling in the skin, Turner says. And blocking substance P reduces skin tissue oedema.

"Until recently, neurogenic inflammation was not known to occur in the brain following injury. Our laboratory has now shown that substance P is released during stroke. And blocking substance P receptors following stroke subsequently reduces brain swelling and improves outcome and survival in rats."

Renée Turner is one of 16 young scientists presenting their research to the public for the first time thanks to Fresh Science, a national program sponsored by the Federal and Victorian Governments. One of the Fresh Scientists will win a trip to the UK courtesy of British Council Australia to present his or her work to the Royal Institution.

For further information or an interview contact: Renée Turner on (08) 8222 3372 or 0402 033 630 or at renee.turner at adelaide.edu.au

Media contact for Fresh Science: Niall Byrne on (03) 5253 1391 or niall at freshscience.org or Sarah Brooker on (03) 9397 3980 or sarah at freshscience.org

More information about the ASC-media mailing list