Gene specifically responsible for stroke may have been discovered

8 Apr 2016

A new study in the US has identified the gene that researchers believe is a primary cause of both strokes and dementia.

FOXF2. That’s the name of the gene that Boston researchers believe is the cause of two of humanity’s most common neurological  conditions: stroke and dementia.

Small vessel disease on the brain can cause strokes, and it’s here that researchers from Boston University decided to look, and it’s also where they hunted down FOXF2. This is a first, though some genes associated with familial small vessel diseases, such as CADASIL, are known.

The discovery increases researchers’ understanding of ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, potentially improving treatments and prevention. This could, in theory, stretch to treatments for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, too.

Stroke of genius

“Unravelling the mechanisms of small vessel disease is essential for the development of therapeutic and preventive strategies for this major cause of stroke,” said Sudha Seshadri, one of the paper’s authors.

Small vessel disease stretches far beyond ‘just’ strokes and dementia, though, with depression and gait issues also related.

“Hence, it is exciting that we are beginning to better understand the cause of this very important and poorly understood type of stroke,” said Seshadri.

Stroke is the leading neurological cause of death and disability worldwide. Given the different types of strokes, different sets of genes have been said to cause it in the past.

Main image of scan via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic