Recently, low-field MRI scanners have become available that are portable, are cryogen-free, are easy to use, provide rapid patient loading and unloading, have minimal power requirements, and have relatively low purchase prices and maintenance costs. For some indications, including ischemic stroke, these MRI scanners are a welcomed addition to the clinical armamentarium, as they have the potential to improve some aspects of clinical care over the current standard of care.
For one, they offer rapid “point-of-care” imaging diagnosis. Owing to their reduced cost and portability, these scanners could be deployed in a myriad of new settings, such as at-large public gatherings (e.g., sporting events or rock concerts), rural health care centers, emergency rooms, and assisted living facilities. Future innovations in motion correction, noise remediation, and image data upload capabilities suggest the eventual use of these scanners in ambulances or even on the battlefield.
As humans live longer, they’re at increased risk of developing devastating NEURODEGENERATIVE diseases, such as Alzheimer’s—in a treatment landscape with few options and little hope. At Scripps Research, scientists are closer than ever to understanding how these diseases harm the brain and identifying possible drugs to stop them.
“This early preclinical work may identify proteins that protect against cognitive loss. We know it’s a long path to get to a drug, but we’re creating the foundation. We know there’s an entire landscape of potential molecular interactions that maintain healthy synapses, and any of these proteins could be a drug target.”— Hollis Cline, PhD
Take an animated look inside the neuron, and learn how scientists are addressing brain disease. With approximately 86 billion neurons in the brain, humans contain the most complex communications network imaginable. To address diseases of brain development and degeneration, neuroscientists are investigating how and why this network breaks down, and what can be done to repair it.
One area of study is dendrites, which are the tree-like structures of neurons, that receive electrical impulses. Researchers are carefully mapping out brain circuits and uncovering how connectivity changes can result in defects of the visual system or behavioral problems. The core section of the neuron is the cell body. Genetic engineering tools are revealing how mutations impact brain development and contribute to autism spectrum disorder or rare, inherited forms of neurological disease.
The transmission of nerve impulses occurs along the axon, which is insulated, much like an electrical wire, by a fatty layer called the myelin sheath. Scientists have invented a medicine to stop the immune system from mistakenly attacking this layer, which occurs during multiple sclerosis. Other molecules currently in development instruct the body to regenerate the sheath and repair damage. The axon also transports valuable cellular cargo, such as neurotransmitters, along tracks from one end of the neuron to the other.
Researchers are testing drug candidates for their ability to remove molecular traffic jams when this transport system fails, as often occurs in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. The axon terminals make connections called synapses with other cells, using neurotransmitters as signals. Some scientists are evaluating how finely tuning the receptors for these chemicals could ease depression and anxiety.
Others are finding ways to promote the regrowth of lost synapses, which could halt neurodegeneration. From genetics to behavior, neuroscience is accelerating new interventions for the most challenging disorders of the nervous system.
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is sometimes called a “mini-stroke.” It is different from the major types of stroke, because blood flow to the brain is blocked for only a short time—usually no more than 5 minutes.1
Most strokes are ischemic strokes.2 An ischemic stroke occurs when blood clots or other particles block the blood vessels to the brain.
Fatty deposits called plaque can also cause blockages by building up in the blood vessels.
A hemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures (breaks open). The leaked blood puts too much pressure on brain cells, which damages them.
High blood pressure and aneurysms—balloon-like bulges in an artery that can stretch and burst—are examples of conditions that can cause a hemorrhagic stroke.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA or “mini-stroke”)
For Blanche Teal-Cruise, a smoker for 40 years who also had high blood pressure, the transient ischemic attack (sometimes called a mini-stroke) she had on the way to work was a wake-up call. Read Blanche’s story.
TIAs are sometimes known as “warning strokes.” It is important to know that
A TIA is a warning sign of a future stroke.
A TIA is a medical emergency, just like a major stroke.
Strokes and TIAs require emergency care. Call 9-1-1 right away if you feel signs of a stroke or see symptoms in someone around you.
There is no way to know in the beginning whether symptoms are from a TIA or from a major type of stroke.
Like ischemic strokes, blood clots often cause TIAs.
More than a third of people who have a TIA and don’t get treatment have a major stroke within 1 year. As many as 10% to 15% of people will have a major stroke within 3 months of a TIA.1
Recognizing and treating TIAs can lower the risk of a major stroke. If you have a TIA, your health care team can find the cause and take steps to prevent a major stroke.
The study involved 7,607 adults who wore a hip-mounted accelerometer (a device that records how fast you move) for a week. Their average age was 63. During a follow-up period averaging 7.4 years, 246 of the participants experienced a stroke.
People who sat for 13 or more hours per day during the initial week of motion tracking were 44% more likely to have a stroke compared with those who’d spent less than 11 hours per day sitting still. In addition, longer bouts of sitting (more than 17 minutes at a time) were linked to a higher risk than shorter bouts (less than eight minutes).
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. with almost 800,000 cases diagnosed each year. Dr. David Miller, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Mayo Clinic in Florida, explains how to reduce your stroke risk..
Although intermittent fasting is most widely known as a weight-loss strategy, emerging research suggests that it could have benefits for brain health and cognition. But does it actually work, are there any drawbacks and how long would you have to fast to see benefits?
WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez breaks down what’s known and what’s not about the neuroscience of intermittent fasting.
Video Timeline: 0:00 Could intermittent fasting help our brains work better and longer? 0:31 How long would you have to fast to see any potential cognitive benefits? 1:04 How intermittent fasting could affect your ability to focus 2:27 Potential mood-related benefits of intermittent fasting 2:48 How intermittent fasting can affect brain health 4:03 Potential drawbacks of intermittent fasting
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth or mass of cells in or around the brain. It is also called a central nervous system tumor. Tumors that develop in the brain are called primary tumors. Tumors that spread to the brain after forming in a different part of the body are called secondary tumors or metastatic tumors. This video focuses on primary malignant brain tumors.
Chapters: 0:00 What is a primary malignant brain tumor? 0:31 What are the main kinds of malignant brain tumors? 1:35 How are brain tumors graded? 1:57 How are primary malignant brain tumors treated? 2:53 When should you see your provider?