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Collaborative Success Stories: Buying Time


Nerve system

University of Missouri researchers have identified a compound that helps lessen damage after a head injury.

Following a stroke, concussion or other traumatic injury, an enzyme is released that causes delayed neurological damage. As a result, up to one million Americans suffer long-term disability or death each year.

Dr. Zezong Gu is studying a compound to counteract the harmful enzyme. Gu found that administering the compound to injured mice stopped the spread of brain bleeds and protected brain cells from further damage in the crucial hours after the trauma. If the finding holds true in humans, it could greatly decrease long-term injury and death.

The project involved collaborators from across campus including pathology, biochemistry, veterinary medicine and psychological sciences. It resulted in three published articles and gave undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to present at meetings and conferences. In search of a human treatment, Gu’s next step is partnering with Dr. Stephen Barnes of MU’s Acute Care Surgery unit to understand over time what happens to the enzyme in the cerebral spinal fluid of trauma patients.

Dr. Zezong Gu is associate professor of pathology and anatomical sciences at the Center for Translational Neuroscience at MU’s School of Medicine.

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Related Initiative(s):
One Health/One Medicine