Oncologist Dr. Belinda Yeoh and a patient

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Team finds first genetic link to influence stroke recovery

Professor Vincent Thijs
Professor Vincent Thijs. Photo courtesy of the Florey Institute.

Austin Health's Head of Stroke Professor Vincent Thijs is part of an international research collaboration that has been the first to identify a genetic variation that influences stroke patients' recovery.

The study, by far the largest of its kind ever conducted, examined previously published genomes of more than 2,000 individuals of European ancestry who were recovering from a stroke.

The research revealed a variation in the PATJ gene that likely influences its expression levels, and results in a worse recovery after stroke caused by a blocked brain vessel, called an ischaemic stroke.

Professor Vincent Thijs, who is also head of the stroke team at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health says that the findings will point the way for new research looking for treatments targeting PATJ.

"We don't yet know the exact way this gene variation influences stroke recovery, but this is the first step. For the first time we now have a biological clue about the stroke recovery process in humans. We hope that further experiments in the next coming years may lead to a drug that boosts the recovery process," says Prof Thijs.

Stroke is the leading cause of death and disability in Australia, and more than half of stroke survivors will have long lasting brain impairments, such as language or movement problems.

While some patients recover completely in the long run, others have incomplete or no recovery at all. The current study provides the first evidence that our genes could determine the extent of our recovery, at least some degree.

The international research from Melbourne, Europe and the United States was published in Circulation Research.

This story was originally published on The Florey's website.