New research by the US Army has provided a better understanding of the swelling known as cerebral edema, which occurs in the brain during a stroke.

This is expected to contribute to new treatment strategies for stroke patients and have potential positive implications for traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

Conducted at the University of Rochester Medical Center and funded in part by the Army Research Office, the research shows for the first time that during a stroke, the glymphatic system goes awry and floods the brain, promoting edema and drowning brain cells.

Cerebral edema occurs in the brain and is a severe and potentially fatal complication for stroke victims.

US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory element ARO fluid dynamics programme manager Matthew Munson said: “Our hope is that this new finding will lead to novel interventions to reduce the severity of ischemic events, as well as other brain injuries to which soldiers may be exposed.

“What’s equally exciting is that this new finding was not part of the original research proposal. That is the power of basic science research and working across disciplines. Scientists ‘follow their nose’ where the data and their hypotheses lead them, often to important unanticipated applications.”

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By GlobalData

Prior to the findings of the new study conducted with mice, scientists assumed that swelling in the brain was due to fluid from the blood.

As part of the research, the brain regions in mice vulnerable to the fluid forced by the glymphatic system were correlated with edema found in human brains that sustained an ischemic stroke that occurs when a vessel in the brain is blocked.

These findings suggest potential new treatment strategies that focus on restoring blood flow to the brain immediately after a stroke when used together with existing therapies.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute of Aging, Fondation Leducq Transatlantic Networks of Excellence Program, the Novo Nordisk and Lundbeck Foundations, and EU Horizon 2020 also provided funding for the research.

Last September, the Phelps Health Medical Center researchers performed clinical testing on 35 soldiers in the Urban Mobility Breacher Course at Fort Leonard Wood to determine the repeated presence of biological signs after TBI.

In December 2017, Zeriscope secured a contract from the Army Advanced Medical Technology Initiative to provide assistance in a study that would help mitigate the effects of TBI.