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The origin of an innate ability the brain has to protect itself from damage that occurs in stroke has been explained for the first time. The results, published in Nature Medicine, and led by Prof Alastair Buchan, University of Oxford, demonstrate the important role played by the protein hamartin.

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When deprived of oxygen, some cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in memory, switch into survival mode and start producing hamartin, which forces the cells to conserve energy. They stop producing new proteins and break down existing ones to access the raw materials. When the cells are prevented from producing hamartin, they die just like other cells.

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