Scientists in Ireland lead world probe into strokes
Irish scientists are heading up a pioneering global study into the blood clots that cause strokes.
The study, led by Irish neuroscientist Dr Karen Doyle, involves examining thousands of stroke-causing blood clots collected from patients around the world.
These little bundles of cells could carry a wealth of information and show how to prevent and treat strokes.
The research is detailed in a new documentary, 'A Tiny Spark', from the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway and Galway Film Centre.
Dr Doyle hopes the study, which is being carried out with hospitals across Europe and the Mayo Clinic in the US, could yield key information on how to treat patients when blood is blocked to their brain by a clot.
"Two million brain cells are lost per minute when the blood is blocked to the brain, the quicker that clot can be removed obviously the better," she said.
"Time is brain. No two clots are the same, their composition can vary quite considerably.
"We want to learn about the biology of these clots that might indicate that a person might be inclined towards having a stroke or might indicate the best way to treat that person after their stroke."
Dr Doyle is a neuroscientist at the Galway Neuroscience Centre in NUI Galway.
She hopes the research will lead to the development of preventive tests for strokes.
"The brain is probably the last frontier in terms of body part and understanding how they actually work. For a long time it was a bit of a black box.
"It's really exciting to be involved where hopefully we will see really good results in the very short term," she said.
"Down the line it may lead to predictive tests or diagnostic tests or may also lead to new treatments to prevent strokes in the first place."
Up to 10,000 people have strokes every year in Ireland. The vast majority of these are aged over 65, but a quarter of strokes occur in younger people.