Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Zebrafish larvae model for identifying drugs to treat strokes

14 April 2022


Strokes can wreak devastation on your brain. Spontaneous intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) is the most deadly type of stroke. Treatments are limited, with little success translating new therapies discovered in mammals to humans. Researchers now use zebrafish larvae to screen for drugs to protect the brain after ICH. Transparent zebrafish larvae make it easy to use fluorescence microscopy to detect changes such as a brain bleed (shown here in yellow) or cell death. Using bubblehead larvae – genetically manipulated larvae that model ICH – 2000 drugs were screened. Fluorescent staining for a cell death marker identified 150 drugs that reduced brain cell death after ICH; six were cardiovascular medications, including two ACE inhibitors (ACE-Is) commonly given to ICH patients. Analysing past clinical trial data revealed ICH patients who received ACE-Is within 7 days of their stroke had improved outcomes after 90 days. The bubblehead model can, therefore, reliably identify drugs for stroke treatment.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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