If you get a stroke – the equivalent of a heart attack but where blood supply to a part of the brain is cut by a clot or burst vessel – there’s three hours in which to restore blood flow before brain tissue dies. Clot-dissolving drugs or surgery can avert the worst effects of a stroke, but only if administered promptly. And since lost brain cells take a long time to grow back, rehabilitation can be painstaking. This snapshot of progenitor cells (stained green) turning into new astrocytes (orange) – the star-shaped and commonest cell type in the brain – offers hope that future therapies aiming to replace lost cells could vastly speed up stroke recovery. Researchers injected neural and vascular progenitor cells into rats’ brains 24 hours after a stroke. Thanks to progenitor cells replacing dead brain and blood vessel cells, rats that received the treatment regained mobility much faster.
Written by Tristan Farrow
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