Skip to main content

Stroke of Genius

Story by
CAROLINE MCNIEL, Illustrated by MARC THOMAS

When a stroke strikes the brain, neurons die. But danger lingers for days afterward, as low oxygen in the area of the stroke threatens surviving brain cells. Researchers using a world-record magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine at the National MagLab have been developing a way to save them.

The technique involves using adult stem cells retrieved from outside the brain, treating them to promote healing and growth, then sending them through the blood to the site of the stroke.

Sam Grant, a MagLab bioengineer and associate professor at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, has been collaborating on the effort with colleagues from his college as well as from the University of South Florida and Tulane University. By labeling the stem cells with contrast agents, the team can track where they go in the brain and how long they stay. Once cells arrive at the stroke lesion, their job is to secrete proteins that will stimulate healing.

“The stem cells reduce inflammation, open blood vessels and create a healthy environment for neural progenitor cells that are going to become neurons,” Grant explained. The researchers then assess how well the brain’s metabolism and sodium levels have recovered.

It’s cutting-edge and potentially life-saving stuff, dramatized below as Capt. Research and his team come to the rescue of endangered brain cells …

 
It is a cartoon of an alert for a stroke emergency, Capt. Research and his team becoming aware of the attack on the striatum and cortex, he sends out a team for repair
 
 
It is a cartoon of Capt. Research and his team talking about how the stem cell unit should be able to stabilize the area, but they have had previous trouble traking them dowm so the team needs accurate reporting to determine what steps to take, if fails they need to enact plan B
 
 
It is a cartoon of Capt. Research stating to dispatch agent contrast with the team so they could then monitor the progress over the magnetic field channel. Then Capt. Research tells his team that the area of stroke destruction is growing and brain cells are dying and that every minute counts
 
 
It is a cartoon of the middle cerebral artery to the site of the stroke and a side image of the brain where they will track the progress with an MRI
 
 
It is a cartoon of agent contrast and the stem cell unit working on resuscitating damaged brain cells
 
 
It is a cartoon of the stem cell unit working to get the lights back on and and image of the stem cell police with the third task wich is to increase blood flow
 
 
It is a cartoon of a stem cell and agent calling attention that they will summon neuroprogenator cells to the site of the stroke and that the area has transfored into new brain cells
 
 
It is a cartoon of Capt. Research and his team with the complete mission
 

Originally published online as "Stroke of Genius" at fields Magazine.