You know how much I love researchers and the work they do. In my favourite “BBC”s Science Focus Magazine” newsletter “Lunchtime Genius” 25th February, 2022, Jason Goodyer’s article titled “Using Magnets to Influence the Brain Could Lead to Revolutionary New Depression Treatment.”
This article caught my eye for two reasons. I suffered from depression a few years ago and this is a possible new treatment. Stroke survivors are at a higher depression risk after stroke.
Researchers Dr. Yicharo Yu and Prof. Mark Lythgoe from University College London, describe their work. We have star-shaped brain cells called Astrocytes. “A type of Glial cell a non-neuronal cells that are found in the brain and spinal cord.”
Dr. Yicharo Yu. “They do many logistical maintenance-type jobs in the brain. But in recent years, as we’ve learnt more about these cells, we’ve found they have many other functions, such as regulating cognitive behavior.”
Using micromagnets they can focus on specific parts of the brain to manipulate Astrocytes inside the brain. All from the outside no invasive brain surgery with no side effects. Excuse my simplification, the micromagnets stretch the Astrocytes releasing ATP, Adenosine Triphosphate and signalling molecules are released coming in contact with the neurons.
This procedure could possibly replace deep brain stimulation (Surgical Procedure) to treat Parkinson’s, epilepsy and depression.
Dr. Yicharo Yu “One is depression, we are very interested in that because there has been some very robust evidence in animal models to show ATP from Astrocytes has very strong anti-depression effects.”
The next paragraph by Prof. Mark Lythgoe is very important. “it could be used post-stroke. The release of the ATP would hopefully mop up some of the toxic molecules that lead to inflammation and therefore reduce the overall size of the stroke damage. This could be the same for epilepsy as well. Epilepsy is also (currently) treated by deep brain stimulation, and we could see this as a replacement.”
Stroke survivor’s future looks bright. We can never give up and keep working hard in recovery. In the near future many of the promising research projects like Dr. Yicharo Yu and Prof. Mark Lythgoe’s will be available for stroke survivors, people with brain disease and brain injury.
If you have the time to volunteer in a research study like the HANDDS-ONT Study.
For information on HANDDS-ONT http://www.ondri.ca/handds http://www.ondri.ca/handds-impacts