Cutting-edge imaging yields new insights into stroke

Synchrotron’s “superhuman vision” made it easy to detect markers of brain damage.

Hemorrhagic stroke, where a weakened vessel in the brain ruptures, can lead to permanent disability or death. Across the globe, over  15 million people are coping with its effects.

A study by researchers from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) and Curtin University in Australia has moved us one step closer to identifying when the bleeding associated with a hemorrhagic stroke starts – critical information for improving patient outcomes.

Time is of the essence when it comes to stroke; the sooner doctors can start treatment, the better the odds they can limit damage.

Using the Mid-IR beamline at the Canadian Light Source at USask, the team examined brain tissue samples with a special technique called Fourier-transform infrared imaging. The researchers were led by Dr. Lissa Peeling, a neurosurgeon at the Royal University Hospital and an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at USask.

The novel approach enabled the researchers to identify changes in the brain specific to hemorrhagic stroke.

Dr. Jake Pushie, a member of Dr. Kelly’s and Dr. Peeling’s research team at USask’s College of Medicine, said the combination of the beamline and infrared imaging made it easy to detect markers of brain damage caused by hemorrhagic stroke.

“In a sense, this is giving us ‘superhuman vision’ to look at these brains and map out what’s happening metabolically,” said Pushie.

With synchrotron technology, the team could see where a bleed originated and the extent of oxidative damage it caused – something impossible to do with a microscope or traditional approaches to imaging. Their findings were published in Metallomics.

Armed with this new approach, and a better understanding of what they are looking for, Pushie and colleagues will now go back through their extensive “library” of stroke tissue samples to gain a clearer picture of the speed at which oxidative damage begins to ramp up.

Read more on the CLS website

Image: Team member Nicole Sylvain, with USask’s College of Medicine, in a lab at the CLS

Wax proves key to protecting crops from drought and frost

A team of researchers used the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) to show that cuticular wax—a waxy layer that covers exterior surfaces of plants, much like human skin—provides a barrier against low temperatures and dehydration.

While numerous studies have established the role of cuticular wax in impacting drought resistance, few studies have examined its role in plant frost resistance and even fewer have examined both, said Dr. Karen Tanino with the College of Agriculture and Bioresource at USask. Her team’s findings were published recently in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

The ultimate goal of the research is to provide plant breeders with information that enables them to more efficiently select superior genetic lines and develop more climate-resistant crops, said Tanino.

Read more on the Canadian Light Source website

Image: The team studied a variety of Arabidopsis phenotypes during the project.