• Identifying Biomarkers for Stroke Recovery - Chromatography Explores

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Identifying Biomarkers for Stroke Recovery - Chromatography Explores

May 02 2019

Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the UK according to government figures. It is estimated that one in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime, with 30% of those people going on to have another stroke. There are around 32,000 deaths attributed to strokes each year in the UK according to recent statistics, but figures show that deaths related to stroke have decreased significantly in the past 15 years.

F.A.S.T. - recognising danger

It is recognised that awareness of the signs of stroke are important to improving the treatment and prognosis of people who suffer from a stroke. It is vital to get treatment as quick as possible as it is estimated that almost 2 million nerve cells are lost every minute that a stroke is left untreated. To this end, Public Health England launched the Act FAST campaign to raise awareness of stroke signs and symptoms.

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time – to call 999

Stroke - stopping blood in the brain

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. There are two main types of stroke. Ischaemic stroke accounts for around 85% of all cases of stroke and occurs when a blood clot stops the flow of blood to the brain. When a blood vessel supplying the brain bursts, then the patient is said to have suffered a haemorrhagic stroke.

Certain medical conditions increase the risk of having a stroke. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. To help prevent a stroke it is recommended that people eat a healthy diet, take regular exercise, stop smoking and drink moderately. Generally, when patients have suffered a stroke they face a long rehabilitation as they try and reverse the damage caused to their brain by relearning old skills.

Analysing blood biomarkers

Currently, there are no established biomarkers that doctors can use to assess recovery and neural repair following a stroke. A team from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. has been carrying out research hoping to remedy this. In a recent paper they state: ‘Such biomarkers would be extremely valuable for aiding in stroke prognosis, timing rehabilitation therapies, and designing drugs to augment natural repair mechanisms.’

The work can be carried out because of advances in liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry instrumentation and techniques. They are looking at the metabolites including lipids and amino acids in the blood as these cross the blood-brain barrier easier than proteins. The analysis of metabolites is discussed in the article, Capillary Electrophoresis-Mass Spectrometry for Micro-Metabolomics. Although the work is in its early stages, they report that: ‘metabolite biomarkers of neural repair after brain injury are a promising avenue for future research’.


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