A powerful daily pill that harnesses a potent chemical in broccoli could soon be given to patients to protect against the most damaging effects of a stroke.
British researchers have proved that a molecule called sulforaphane, which occurs naturally in the vegetable, turns on a protective enzyme in the brain.
Scientists at King’s College London found this ‘scavenger’ enzyme then removes dangerous free radical cells that damage and kill other cells in a process known as oxidative stress, which has been linked to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.
And in what is being hailed as a major breakthrough, the discovery that the humble broccoli chemical can minimise the damage caused by strokes may pave the way for thousands at risk to take a simple pill every day.
The British Heart Foundation, which funded the research, says there is an urgent need for new treatments to prevent damage caused by strokes.
Its associate medical director, Professor Jeremy Pearson, revealed that tests showed sulforaphane can reduce the severity of stroke in mice.
He added that if it had the same effect on humans, ‘in the future we could see people taking a pill every day to prevent a stroke’s debilitating effects, much in the same way people currently take a statin to ward off a heart attack’.