Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, often leaving victims significantly impaired and unable to work or go about activities of daily living. The endocannabinoid system is a natural healing mechanism within the body, and research suggests that it may play a role in protecting neurologic function in patients who suffer a stroke. Dr. Eugene Scharf, of the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, seeks to confirm the important role of endocannabinoids in stroke healing by measuring levels in patients who have had an acute stroke.
What we Know:
Of the 800,000 Americans who have a stroke each year, 140,000 die, and those who survive are at risk of serious, long-term disability. Nearly half of stroke victims have permanent disabilities in movement, speech, or thinking, making everyday tasks difficult. Evidence exists that endocannabinoids may be prevent brain damage in patients suffering from a stroke, although larger studies are needed to confirm these results.
Improved Understanding and Hope for Treatment:
By studying the changes that occur in endocannabinoids following a stroke, Dr. Scharf and his team will determine whether levels of these natural healing molecules are associated with better outcomes for patients. This information will allow the design of therapeutic drugs that produce the effects observed in those patients who have the best outcomes following stroke. If, for example, one specific endocannabinoid goes up in those patients with no functional disability after their stroke, then therapeutic agents could be designed that elevate the levels of that molecule, which may in turn improve outcomes in patients.
Our Plan to Help:
The American Brain Foundation, with your help, will give Dr. Scharf the resources he needs to make important new discoveries on the role of endocannabinoids in stroke. The findings Dr. Scharf and his team generate could pave the way for developing a much needed method for preventing the effects of stroke.