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Preserving Brain Functions During Stroke

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  Researchers at LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) have discovered a way to prevent some cases of brain damage during stroke. In an article published in the medical journal Cell last month, researchers led by Dr. Youming Lu, professor of neurology and neuroscience at LSUHSC, detailed their identification of the mechanism that triggers brain damage during stroke — and how to block it.

  Lu and his team discovered that during a stroke, the enzyme Death-Associated Protein Kinase 1 (DAPK1) binds with N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, disabling NMDA's usual process of preventing brain cell death by stopping the cells' overload with calcium. The researchers developed an agent that blocks DAPK1 while allowing NMDA receptors to perform other beneficial functions, including roles in the areas of learning and memory.

  The research was funded by the National Insitute of Health's National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke as well as the American Heart Association (AHA).

  AHA statistics show stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, and a recent study found that residents of the "stroke belt," which includes Louisiana and seven other southeastern states, have a 40 percent higher mortality rate from stroke than the rest of the country.

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