Nose drops may boost stroke recovery, even after it’s “too late”

Currently, if someone doesn’t receive treatment within a few hours of suffering a stroke, their chances of recovery are greatly diminished. That may one day no longer be the case, however, thanks to newly developed nasal drops.

The medication is being developed via a collaboration between scientists at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg, Germany’s University of Cologne, and the Czech Academy of Sciences.

It contains a peptide known as C3a, which is naturally produced in the central nervous system. Previous research suggested that the peptide could help restore motor function in stroke victims.

As part of the current study, the nasal drops were administered to mice seven days after the animals had experienced a stroke. When subsequently compared to an untreated control group, those mice were found to have recovered motor function faster, and to a greater extent.

Additionally, MRI scans of their brains showed an increase in the formation of new connections between nerve cells. What’s more, the added C3a appeared to have boosted the function of cells called astrocytes, which control some functions of nerve cells.

The beneficial effect of the nasal drops proceeded to last long after the treatment had ceased. That said, the scientists believe that if the drops are administered too soon after a stroke, they may actually have a detrimental effect by increasing the number of inflammatory cells in the brain.

“With this method, there’s no need to race against the clock,” said U Gothenburg’s Prof. Marcela Pekna, who led the study. “If the treatment is used in clinical practice, all stroke patients could receive it, even those who arrive at the hospital too late for thrombolysis or thrombectomy. Those who have remaining disability after the clot is removed could improve with this treatment too.”

Clinical trials on humans are now being planned. The research is described in a paper that was recently published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Source: University of Gothenburg

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