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Hibernating squirrels give clues to stroke treatments for people

Thanks to squirrels, scientists may have found a molecule that protects the brain from stroke damage, The Telegraph reports. Hibernating ground squirrels experience a similar loss of blood flow to the brain as ischemic stroke patients, but squirrels wake up without trauma because a cellular process called SUMOylation protects their brains. Researchers report in The FASEB Journal that an enzyme called ebselen spurs this process, and even kept oxygen-deprived brain cells from dying. A quickly deliverable therapy like this could substantially improve stroke recovery, the scientists say.


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