“A Stroke of Bad Luck – Understanding Brain Disease”
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell
Stroke is the third greatest killer and causes massive disability, yet there are few effective treatments. It is caused by a disruption of blood flow to part of the brain resulting in a catastrophic cascade and death of vital brain cells (neurones).
We showed that inflammation, not commonly associated with brain disease, is a major factor in brain damage caused by a stroke and may also contribute to the devastating consequences of brain injury, haemorrhage and dementias. We have identified a key mediator of the inflammatory processes in stroke, a protein called interleukin-1 (IL-1). We have identified cell sources of IL-1, know it acts in the brain and in the rest of the body and have completed an early clinical trial of an IL-1 blocker in stroke and brain haemorrhage patients. These findings, plans and hopes for the future will be discussed.