Hydrogel injections can help the brain recover from a stroke

Micrograph of the reconstructed part of the brain of an experimental mouse

Timely medical care in developed countries has been steadily reducing the number of stroke victims, but survivors face an even worse fate - a very long, painful and ineffective recovery. At the University of California Los Angeles, in contrast to existing methods, they proposed an alternative - to point-fill the damaged areas of the brain with hydrogel, which will give an impetus to tissue regeneration.

In a normal situation, brain cells that have died from a stroke are "utilized" by the body, and voids remain in their places. Blood vessels or neurons cannot pass through them, which inhibits the recovery of the brain. But what if you inject a hydrogel with nutrients and anti-inflammatory drugs into the cavity? We get a "vegetable garden" in which the surrounding healthy tissues can grow and develop, filling the void.

Experiments on mice have shown the fundamental correctness of the authors of the method. Stroke scars in rodents completely healed after 16 weeks, the hydrogel dissolved in the body without harm, axons in the new tissue worked and sent signals. The cured mice showed improved motor skills when searching for food compared to untreated controls. Alas, the experimental mice did not achieve complete recovery of the brain after a stroke.

This is the narrowest and most difficult place of the new technology, scientists cannot yet figure out in detail how the restoration of connections in the brain occurs during tissue regeneration. Reflexes, personal experience, acquired skills - how to reliably return all this to a living creature after a stroke, and not just alleviate its fate as a disabled person? But American scientists hope that they will soon find the answers and will be able to move on to work on healing a person.