Gene For Stroke Recovery

A New Link Discovered Between A Certain Gene And Stroke Recovery Could Offer A Second Chance For Millions

We may be getting the first pill to counteract the physical and mental aftermath of a mild stroke.

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In the United States, strokes are a leading cause of disabilities, with more than six million Americans suffering from arm and leg weakness, poor muscular control, and memory lapses (amongst other symptoms) after even mild instances. This past week, UCLA scientists discovered a key link between a particular gene (known as CCR5) and recovery from strokes — namely, the fact that those patients who lacked CCR5 had an improved course of recovery from mild stroke than patients with the gene.

According to senior author Dr. S. Thomas Carmichael, chair of the neurology department at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, such a revelation may be a deciding factor in the formation of the first pill to counteract the physical and mental aftermath of mild stroke.

The CCR5 gene plays a plethora of roles as a member of the beta chemokine receptor family, a seven transmembrane protein similar to G Protein coupled receptors (GPCRs). Expressed by T cells and macrophages, this protein is known to be a co-receptor for macrophage tropic viruses such as HIV to enter host cells. Current data built upon from prior research suggests that suppressing CCR5 enhances neurons' ability to form new connections and rewire the brain after injury. A study performed in 2016 by UCLA neurobiologist Alcino Silva demonstrated that maraviroc, an FDA-approved drug that targets CCR5 in order to reduce the spread of HIV in patients, improved learning and memory in mice.

From this data, Carmichael hypothesized that maraviroc could also accelerate patients' rate of recovery from stroke. His team partnered with pharmacologist Esther Shohami at Hebrew University to test the drug's effectiveness in a mouse model, and concluded that maraviroc blocked CCR5 in mice and boosted their recovery from traumatic brain injury and stroke.

Armed with the knowledge that CCR5 deletion is a common genetic trait of Ashkenazi Jews, Carmichael and his team reached out to Tel Aviv University scientists (led by neuroscientist Einor Ben Assayag) who were following stroke patients in an observational study, documenting their improvements in movement following their incidents. Patients missing the CCR5 gene were found to have significantly greater recovery in motor skills, language, and sensory function. Approximately one year after stroke, these same patients also scored higher in tests assessing memory, verbal function and attention, as compared to patients expressing the CCR5 gene. The CCR5 deletion appears to enhance recovery by enabling plasticity, allowing neurons to make new connections to rewire the brain, and regain lost function.

The scientists' next steps will include launching of clinical trials testing the effectiveness of maraviroc on stroke patients with the CCR5 gene. While there is still a ways to go in terms of complete recuperation, these promising developments will surely be instrumental in the development of drugs and medical techniques designed to accelerate recovery from stroke through gene silencing.

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Florida Is Starting To Rethink The Whole Reefer Madness Narrative And I'm Diggin' It

It's a dope change of pace.

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Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that will allow people with medical marijuana cards to smoke weed legally and, personally, I think it's dope.

I didn't even know people with medical cards in Florida couldn't actually smoke the weed they were prescribed until earlier this year. My friend who suffers from lupus just started smoking hers after the bill was passed. The stinky plant comes in a prescription pill bottle and she's supposed to vaporize it, kind of like a humidifier. I went with her to a dispensary (no laws were broken, I waited in the lobby) and she explained the whole process behind it. Apparently, there's a lot of ways people consume weed. There's cannabis pills, edibles, patches, dab pens, the list goes on. Like, what?

I mean, that's cool and all, but I couldn't wrap my brain around it. What's the problem with the act of smoking? The end goal has the same effects. Granted, it can mess with your lungs, but cigarettes are legal. Vapes are legal. Think about it: the things that are actually legal to smoke don't have any positive effects. Do you see the disconnect?

I still don't fully understand the negative stigma behind weed. Yes, it does for sure mess with your memory and yes, we don't know a lot about it in general so it's hard to say the drug is 100% safe. But then again, JUULs are legal and we don't even know those long term effects. There are so many awful drugs the FDA has approved and yet, they can't get fully on board with weed. Xanax is a highly addictive, dangerous as hell drug if it's abused and it's rarely monitored. Some doctors hand it out like candy. Even Tylenol is awful.

No one has died from weed. How many people have died from alcohol poisoning? I'm just saying you never hear about a stoner overdosing on weed—it's just not a thing.

What we do know about weed is that it does have some positive effects on people's health and it can actually help those in real pain. Even people with cancer are suggested to smoke weed to help with their symptoms, so what's the issue? I'm glad Florida is starting to recognize that this stigma is old-fashioned and is starting to move away from the devil's lettuce narrative.

I'm not saying everyone should dress head to toe in weed paraphernalia and spark a blunt in the middle of Downtown, Orlando (although, that would be interesting to watch) and I am not condoning any illegal use of marijuana, but I think the Reefer Madness mindset is extremely outdated. People who actually need weed for medical issues are not using it recreationally, so any prior beef with Mary Jane should not affect their health.

Florida is finally making changes for those who medically need it and it's lit.

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