A hormone associated with the body's growth hormone system could play a role in helping stroke patients to make a more effective recovery.
Researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg have linked the blood-borne hormone insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) to better long-term recovery following a stroke, based on research involving 407 patients.
This was the first study to show that IGF-I - which contributes to growth and bone mass and is found in abundance among healthy, active patients - can have positive effects long after the stroke event among those with high levels of the hormone during early phases.
It is hoped that this could lead to the development of stroke treatment methods that use the hormone itself or stimulate its production.
Associate professor David Aberg at the Sahlgrenska Academy said: "Of course, these possibilities must be tested in carefully constructed clinical trials, so that we discover any undesired effects that must be considered."
Last month, the University of Leicester conducted research showing that neutralising a certain enzyme in the body can also help to minimise damage following ischaemic events such as heart attacks and strokes.