Researchers have found that a gene could help the brain heal itself after a stroke or any other head-related injuries.
The study, published in Cell Reports, suggested that a dose of the TRIM9 gene could reduce brain swelling after stroke, prevent damage following a blow to the head (concussion) or encephalitis, which is the inflammation of the brain.
In addition, in a lab model, the researchers from the University of Southern California found that older brains with low TRIM9 levels — or engineered brains missing the TRIM9 gene entirely — were prone to extensive swelling following a stroke.
The is because TRIM9 is abundant in the youthful brain but grows scarce with age.
On the other hand, when the team used a harmless virus to carry a dose of the gene directly into TRIM9-deficient brains, the swelling decreased dramatically and recovery improved, the findings further revealed.
It is unlikely that gene therapy delivered by viruses will become the go-to treatment for strokes, head injuries or encephalitis as the best shot at treating stroke is within the first 30 minutes to one hour, said lead author Jae Jung at the varsity.
Jung further added that not all inflammation in the brain is bad as it plays a role in fighting infection and helps clear away dead tissue. However, inflammation for a long duration could lead to the death of neurons.