Strokes are the No. 1 cause of long-term disability and the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to Franklin West, associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. West is also the senior author of a study at the University of Georgia Regenerative Bioscience Center, where pigs play a pivotal role in helping researchers discover how people can be spared from the harmful effects of strokes.
In an article by Olivia Adams in The Red & Black, which produces the University of Georgia’s newspaper, West explains a lot of drugs designed to help stroke victims have made it to clinical trial. Few have been successful in human patients, however.
West and his team selected pigs due to the similarity of their brain anatomy compared to humans. Pigs have been commonly used in other areas of medical research, but they have never been used in stroke research prior to this, the researcher said.
“A lot of the drugs that have made it to clinical trial mostly focus on just limiting the damage to the brain,” West said in the article. “With the stem cells, we not only want to limit the damage to the brain, but we actually want to repair and replace lost or damaged brain tissue. These stem cells actually secrete regenerative growth factors.”