Stroke recovery hope

June 25, 1999

Salvaging brain cells immediately after a stroke could increase the chances of a full recovery, scientists at Manchester University say.

Nancy Rothwell, Medical Research Council professor in Manchester's School of Biological Sciences, believes that by blocking a protein released by the immune system after a stroke, the destruction of some brain cells will be reduced. The protein, Interleukin-1, usefully encourages inflammation in other parts of the body but can cause extensive damage to the brain.

The research will be conducted on behalf of medical charity Research into Ageing. The three-year project aims to improve medical knowledge of stroke treatment. "About 130,000 people in the United Kingdom suffer from strokes every year," Professor Rothwell said. "It is the greatest cause of disability in the UK and the third greatest killer. There is no cure for stroke, other than prevention. We are working towards a possible treatment that will limit damage after a stroke," she added. It is estimated that the UK spends nearly Pounds 2 billion a year on care and treatment for stroke victims.

A small clinical trial to assess the treatment's feasibility and safety will pave the way for future research. Professor Rothwell said: "There will always be some irreversible damage from a stroke. We hope to work towards reducing damage and death. It could be the difference between paralysis and walking and talking."

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