Tuesday February 20, 2018

Astrocytes help in keeping the brain healthy, reveals a study

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New York: Scientists reported in a study that star-shaped brain cells appear to help in keeping blood pressure and blood flow inside the brain on a healthy tone.

The finger-like appendages of astrocytes, called end-feet, quite literally wrap around the countless, fragile blood vessels in the brain, constantly monitoring what is going on inside and around them.

“This is the first evidence of the astrocytes’ role in pressure-induced myogenic (muscle) tone, which is keeping things regular,” said Dr Jessica A Filosa, neurovascular physiologist at Georgia Regents University.

Filosa terms astrocytes as “housekeepers”. When they sense a change in blood pressure inside the brain, one of their duties is releasing signals that help dilate or constrict the blood vessels, whichever it takes to maintain the healthy status quo.

In fact, astrocytes keep their fingers on the pulse of blood vessels and neurons simultaneously, apparently playing an important role in balancing their needs.

“They are perfect bridges between what is going on with neuronal activity and blood flow changes to the brain.”

Astrocytes relentlessly monitor and respond to changes in blood pressure to help keep the brain from getting too much blood.

The team is now looking into what effect activating astrocytes has on neuronal activity.

The paper appeared in The Journal of Neuroscience. (IANS)

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Novel stroke treatment repairs damaged brain tissue

Researchers have developed a new stem-cell based treatment for stroke that reduces brain damage and accelerates the brain's natural healing tendencies

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The new research can reduce the threat of permanent brain damage considerably.
The new research can reduce the threat of permanent brain damage considerably. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have developed a new stem-cell based treatment for stroke that reduces brain damage and accelerates the brain’s natural healing tendencies.

The treatment called AB126 was developed using extracellular vesicles (EV) — fluid-filled structures known as exosomes — which are generated from human neural stem cells.

“This is truly exciting evidence because exosomes provide a stealth-like characteristic, invisible even to the body’s own defences.

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When packaged with therapeutics, these treatments can actually change cell progression and improve functional recovery,” said Steven Stice, a professor at the University of Georgia in the US who led the research team.

Fully able to cloak itself within the bloodstream, this type of regenerative EV therapy appears to be the most promising in overcoming the limitations of many cells therapies-with the ability for exosomes to carry and deliver multiple doses-as well as the ability to store and administer treatment, the researchers said.

Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added.
Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added. Wikimedia Commons

Small in size, the tiny tubular shape of an exosome allows EV therapy to cross barriers that cells cannot be said the study published in the journal Translational Stroke Research.

Following the administration of AB126, the researchers used MRI scans to measure brain atrophy rates in preclinical, age-matched stroke models, which showed an approximately 35 percent decrease in the size of injury and 50 percent reduction in brain tissue loss.

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“Until now, we had very little evidence specific to neural exosome treatment and the ability to improve motor function. Just days after stroke, we saw better mobility, improved balance and measurable behavioural benefits in treated animal models,” Stice said.

Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added. (IANS)

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