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Nasal spray heals rat brain after a stroke


A nasal spray, that delivers a shot of antibodies directly to the brain, can help to heal some of the damage caused by a stroke, according to a new study in rats.


The research – involving EARA member the University of Zurich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), both Switzerland, as well as German institutions including Helmholtz Center Munich – investigated how to successfully deliver a drug to the brain after an ischemic stroke, caused by a blocked artery in the brain.


Although antibodies already exist that can aid brain healing, they have been difficult to deliver because these molecules are too large to pass through the blood-brain barrier – a network of blood vessels and tissue that stops many substances from entering the brain.


However, the researchers found that by using a different route to the brain, via the nose, rats that were given the antibody spray greatly improved their ability to carry out a task following a stroke, compared to those rats that did not receive the spray – the treated rats also grew new nerve fibres in the brain.


Professor Martin Schwab, at ETH Zurich, told the New Scientist: “It shows there’s a natural regenerative power within the brain and you just have to take the brakes off to let it happen.”


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