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D. Do Cells Commit Suicide?

Narrator: This is Science Today. Strokes are caused by interrupted blood flow to the brain and can often result in massive injury to the brain's neurons. After the initial injury, the cells often try to repair their damaged DNA. The process is extremely taxing, and can sometimes kill the neuron. But Doctor Raymond Swanson, a neurology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, says the process may simply be a way for cells to self-destruct.

Swanson: Cell death in a stroke is not purely a passive process. The thinking for many years is that when cells in the body, and especially in the brain are deprived of blood, they simply run out of energy and die, and there's nothing that can be done about it. Our data shows that the cells themselves contribute to their own death.

Narrator:But Swanson says the process isn't just a cellular suicide mission, but rather a glitch in cell responses to massive trauma.

Swanson: And so what we think is going on is that this is a normal response to DNA damage, which is simply maladaptive.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.