Deep inside the brain, something has gone wrong. One of the blood vessels supplying oxygen and nutrients has become blocked, and the brain cells are starving and starting to die. What’s happening here is a stroke, and the resulting damage can leave a sufferer disabled for life. Yet there’s a lot of variation in how badly people are affected. Researchers noticed that following a stroke the brains of various genetic types of mice (pictured) responded differently and some types were more likely to suffer worse effects than others. This turns out to be due to variations in a gene called Itgal. Although this work is only in mice at the moment, the scientists think Itgal might play a part in protecting the brain in human stroke sufferers, and could point towards future approaches for developing treatments that reduce a stroke's damaging effects.
Written by Kat Arney
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