Strokes, also known as cerebral ischemia, are caused by inadequate blood flow to the brain and are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
The team’s work focused on a neurotransmitter that typically plays an important role in communication among nerve cells in the brain and fosters learning and memory. This glutamate neurotransmitter opens the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors, allowing the entry of calcium into the nerve cells.
The findings appear in the Jan. 22 issue of Cell, one of the leading journals in the field.
“It is conceivable that this study not only provides new insights into the cellular and molecular basis responsible for stroke damage, but also provides a therapeutic target for stroke therapy,” said Youming Lu, the LSU professor who led the team of scientists.
The findings also may have significant implications for developing therapeutic drugs to treat other neurodegenerative diseases, said UCF Assistant Professor Sic Chan, a study collaborator who has done extensive research on the role of calcium in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Continue reading at UCF News, Stroke’s ‘Death Signal’ Discovered; May Aid Drug Development, by Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala, Jan. 21, 2010.