New drug target boosts hopes for stroke therapy

Plant-derived chemicals may help protect neurons from metabolic stress following stroke.

Dan Ferber(ferber@nasw.org)
Oct 16, 2001

URBANA, ILLINOIS — Every year, millions of people suffer debilitating strokes, and most of the brain damage occurs in the hours just afterwards. But even after four decades of concentrated research, there is still little doctors can do for most patients to keep their brain cells alive.

But in 9 October Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, neurologist Raymond Swanson and colleagues at the Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Francisco, reduced damage from a simulated stroke by treating cultured mouse cells with either of two plant-derived chemicals — gallotannin and nobotanin B. Each chemical blocked an enzyme that inadvertently kills cells while trying to repair their DNA. "It's a completely new drug target for treating stroke," Swanson said.

When a blood clot cuts off blood to part of the brain during stroke, a small core of cells die immediately, but the fate of a much larger...

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