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Scientists are looking for ways to protect nerve cells from the effects of stroke

18.08.2017 Health

Joanna Rzemieniec; source: L'Oréal Polska

Stroke is the third leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease. Scientists from the Institute of Pharmacology of the Polish Academy of Sciences conducted research on new drugs, which provide more effective protection of nerve cells from stroke.

Stroke affects about 15 million people every year. Every year, 70,000 Poles face the disease, of which 30,000 die within a month of its occurrence. Consequently, stroke is the third leading cause of death after cancer and heart disease. The risk increases with age and is highest in people over 60 years of age. According to the latest WHO estimates, more than 7 million people may die due to stroke by 2030.


The typical aspect of stroke is the sudden onset of focal or total brain dysfunction. The immediate cause may be a thrombosis or embolism of the cerebral arteries responsible for blood supply to the brain, or haemorrhage. A stroke typically lasts longer than 24 hours.


Symptoms that indicate the possibility of stroke include, but are not limited to: sudden sensory impairment of one side of the body, facial distortion, limb weakness on one side, speech and vision problems, dizziness and balance difficulties. In addition, stroke may be associated with hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, cigarette smoking, obesity, or alcohol abuse.


Experts explain that in the case of a stroke the first day is the most important. Survival or recovery depends on the time after which the first aid was given - and when the sick person came under specialized care. Experts agree that it is important to quickly identify the first symptoms. Ignoring them may lead to death or permanent disability.


Currently stroke treatment aims to restore blood flow in the affected area as soon as possible. However, there are still no drugs with a wide "therapeutic window" and no serious side effects. That is why this disease is a big problem for both scientists and doctors. They are looking for a neuroprotective drug that would protect the brain from the effects of stroke. Research in this direction is conducted by Joanna Rzemieniec from the Institute of Pharmacology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków, a scholarship holder in the 16th edition of L'Oréal Polska for Women in Science.


"I study new groups of drugs that could act on certain receptors and protect brain cells from the effects of stroke. I am particularly interested in the assessment of the protective potential of raloxifene and diindolomethane. These chemicals may, depending on the tissue, inhibit or stimulate certain proteins, due to which their side effects could be limited. More detailed knowledge on this subject can lead to the development of new, safer therapies protecting the brain from the effects of stroke" - explained the researcher.


Rzemieniec is an applied biotechnology graduate of the University of Agriculture in Krakow. In December 2016 she received a scholarship from the President of the Polish Academy of Sciences for outstanding research achievements. She is also a laureate of the Award for Young Scientists of the Neuroscience Institute Cavalieri Ottolenghi of the University of Turin. Currently she is involved in five research projects financed by the National Science Centre.


PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland


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