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Good gene type for cancer bad for stroke

A DNA variant is linked to diminished brain recovery

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3:20pm, March 2, 2011

A naturally occurring genetic variant may predict who will do well after a stroke and who won’t.

People who have two copies of a particular version of the Tp53 gene have a poor prognosis after stroke and brain hemorrhages, researchers in Spain report online February 28 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The difference between the two versions of the gene amounts to one small change: swapping proline out for arginine as the 72nd link in a chain of amino acids that make up a protein called p53.

The arginine-containing variant of p53 had previously been shown to help protect against cancer by increasing apoptosis, a cell suicide program that gets rid of damaged cells before they can turn nasty. Brain cells can also undergo apoptosis after a stroke, but there it’s a bad thing, leading to more widespread damage.

Angeles Almeida, a molecular biologist at the University Hospital of Salamanca, and her colleagues wanted to know if

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