[Sciences] International Stroke Conference 2016 – Day 2 & 3

As I am writing this post, the #ISC16 is slowly concluding. This is my third ISC (2011 and 2014) and I was glad to see high quality basic science build up over the years.
It was so instructive and intense in terms of science that shut my brain off by the end of the day.
The basic science was very interesting, with a presentation by Dr. James Faber (University of of North Carolina – Chapel Hill) that explored the strain differences between mice in terms of brain vascular collateral branching. The brain is mostly perfused by two main arteries: the anterior cerebral artery (ACA) and the middle cerebral artery (MCA). These are big pipes that branches out into smaller pipes to provide collateral branches, very similar to what you would expect from having faucet water pipes, all being fed by a main water pipe from the city water utility. Dr. Faber nicely described how two different mouse strains (the C57/Bl6 and Balb/c) have opposite collateral densities: one has a lot, the other has almost not. Why it matters? It matters because it can tell us how much the brain tissue is perfused and how well it can sustain ischemia. If you have an auxiliary supply, you are at better odds to cope and recover than if you are lacking it.
Dr. Faber indeed found that one single gene was dictating why these two mice stains show major differences and such differences in branching was only present in the brain but absent in the retina.
Another interesting study was published by Dr. Franklin West (University of Georgia) that have been using pigs as a model for stroke injury and even generating porcine induced pluripotent stem cells (piPSCs) to differentiate into neural stem cells. I found it was a very exciting and interesting aspect as it can help assess the relevance of iPSC-derived model of the BBB by allowing us to directly compare and benchmark iPSC-derived porcine BMECs versus primary porcine BMECs (that can be readily obtainable from pig brains harvested from slaughterhouses).
Aside from scientific presentation, there was also some exhibition mostly focused to clinicians but one key aspect was the development of stroke mobile units as displayed below:

Yep, a CT scan on wheel, specially designed for stroke emergency. As we have mentioned, time matters during stroke injury. However an  important bottleneck in the door-to-operating table is the diagnostic between ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. On the former, you want to dissolve a clot. On the latter, you want to induce a clot to stop the hemorrhage. This can only be done by doing a CT scan. Thats takes time and by the time you arrive at the hospital and being headed to the radiology, precious minutes have been vanished.
I found that was some impressive advances in technology to have a CT scan on wheel allowing the specialized paramedics to make the diagnosis on the way to the hospital and have the patient directed straight into the operating room. In the evening, we had our poster session and it was an interesting moment to be the senior author, shadowing my student describing the poster:

One sad moment as we were un mounting the poster was to see the poster graveyard were orphaned poster are left abandoned by their owners, like pets on the roadside during holidays. Unfortunately, no poster shelters for these poor folks. I always consider that posters should be brought back to the lab to display your lab achievement and only die due to aging (outdated data).

As the conference ending up, there are some special lecture. The Willis Award was given this year to Dr. Ulrich Dinargl (Center for Stroke Research, Berlin), also co-editor of the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism. Dr. Dinargl nicely advocated for preclinical models of stroke, as we learn from failures and from negative experiences. The recent move of several journals, including JCBFM, to have a “negative results” section is a welcome move than can save valuable time and money to other research groups and avoid others to engage into scientific dead-ends.

Auld Lang Syne, as the curtain drops, we are already eyeing on next year……with a much closer venue. Glad to see the next ISC being held in Houston, Texas.


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