Marine Algae Could Help in Stroke Recovery Treatment

Written by on November 15, 2012 in Marine Life

Emily Tripp

A new study found that a compound produced by marine algae (Karenia brevis) could aid in the recovery of brain function after a stroke.

The compound, brevetoxin-2, stimulated nerve cell growth and plasticity in cultured mouse neurons.  Increased plasticity around the damaged part of the brain is what causes the nerve cells to ‘rewire’ after a stroke or severe brain damage.

“If that outcome can be supported by further studies in animals and subsequently humans, it could have a profound impact on a currently non-treatable condition,” said Dr. Thomas F. Murray, professor and chair of the Creighton School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology.

K. brevis is the same organism that is responsible for toxic algal blooms (red tides) that occur off the west coast of Florida.  Red tides can cause irritation to the lungs in humans and can paralyze nervous systems in fish.

“Brevetoxin is a neurotoxin that is known to activate nerves cells to fire spontaneously,” said Dr. Dan Baden, founding member and Executive Principal of MARBIONC at University of North Carolina Wilmington.  “It’s a great advancement to show that this naturally occurring ocean compound can stimulate nerve cell growth in cultured mouse cells.”

Red tide off the coast of Texas.

Red tide off the coast of Texas. Photo credit: NOAA.

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Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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