A neuroscientist at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech is conducting a study to investigate how the brain develops “collateral” blood vessels in hopes of understanding how the brain repairs itself after a stroke. According to a Virginia Tech news release, Michelle Theus, an assistant professor of molecular and cellular neurobiology, is searching for answers about the brain’s natural network of collateral blood vessels and its ability to remodel them after stroke and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Theus received a 3-year, $483,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to begin the research. Theus hypothesizes that a family of Eph receptors operate as “negative regulators” in the formation of collateral vessels. Essentially, these receptors may make it difficult for the brain to initially form, as well as repair, collaterals and, in effect, limit the ability of the brain to mend itself after a stroke.

Theus explains, “If that’s the case, then therapeutic delivery of a drug that blocks this pathway may promote remodeling of the collateral network, improve blood flow, and limit tissue damage following stroke.” Although the study will provide new insights into the formation of collateral vessels and address the possible growth for developing a new technique for promoting their growth, Theus emphasizes that the research is in the preliminary stages.

Theus states, “Our long-term goal is to identify a way to enhance with a blocker the collateral network of an individual at risk for stroke and to generate effective, safe, and feasible drug targets that improve collateralization during chronic repair and translate them into clinical applications.”

The Virginia Tech news release indicates that Theus’ work is part of the One Health initiative that is uniting human and animal health. The One Health approach is dedicated to improving the lives of all species through the integration of human medicine, veterinary medicine, and environmental science, as indicated on the Virginia Tech news release.

[Source: Virginia Tech]