A new study using brevetoxin-2, a compound produced naturally by marine algae, stimulated nerve cell growth and plasticity in cultured mouse neurons. This research advances a potentially new pharmacological treatment to aid recovery of brain function following a stroke or other traumatic brain injury.
Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States with more than 795,000 people suffering a stroke each year, according to the Center for Disease Control. Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability and there is currently no drug treatment for post-stroke rehabilitation.
"Our research suggests that compounds like brevetoxin-2 can augment neuronal plasticity potentially providing a neural repair therapy for stroke recovery. If that outcome can be supported by further studies in animals and subsequently humans, it could have a profound impact on a currently non-treatable condition," said Thomas F. Murray, Ph.D. associate vice president for Health Science Research and professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Creighton School of Medicine.
The research team from Creighton University School of Medicine, University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography published their findings in the Nov. 12 online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The tiny marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis produces brevetoxin, which in high concentrations is responsible for the harmful algal blooms known as red tides that occur in the waters off the west coast of Florida. The neurotoxin-laden red tide causes respiratory irritation in humans and central nervous system paralysis in fish.