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Research reveals how brains develop the right mix of cells

Scientists have discovered a mechanism that controls the mix of cells in the developing brain, which could help us to understand and treat conditions such as epilepsy.   Broadly speaking, our brains contain two types of nerve cells or ‘neurons’: excitatory neurons, which increase activity in other neurons, and inhibitory interneurons, which dampen activity between neurons. The balance between the two forces of excitation and inhibition is thought to be critical for maintaining stable activity in healthy brains, and the disruption of this balance has been implicated in epilepsy, schizophrenia, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders.

Partnering to improve patient-neurologist dialogue about epilepsy

Digital Health Solutions, Child Neurology Foundation and Greenwich Biosciences begin work to create high-tech risk-screening tool    Experts in academia, patient advocacy and the health care industry have begun a partnership to improve communication about epilepsy between pediatricians, pediatric neurologists and the families of pediatric patients.   Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes seizures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 3.5 million Americans had active epilepsy in 2015, including 470,000 children. In a 2017 guideline, the American Academy of Neurology urged health care providers to report risks associated with the condition to caregivers of children living with epilepsy. Those risks include sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, or SUD...

Simple blood test could reveal epilepsy risk

A finger-prick blood test to diagnose epilepsy could be available within five years, according to scientists who are using tell-tale molecules called biomarkers to overcome current diagnostic problems and guide treatment.   More than 50 million people are affected by epilepsy worldwide. However, diagnosing the disease remains challenging and treatments are often unsuccessful: only 70% of patients taking anti-epileptic drugs are seizure-free.   “Diagnosis of epilepsy is really difficult,” explained David Henshall, professor of molecular physiology and neuroscience at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. “Seizures are the main clinical symptom for the disease but it is very rare that a doctor will witness the patient having a seizure. This makes epilepsy comp...

British doctors prepare to implant ‘three-parent’ embryos in women

Doctors at Britain’s Newcastle University have selected two women to bear implanted embryos created from genetic material collected from three parents.   Both women carry gene mutations causing a rare condition known as “myoclonic epilepsy with ragged red fibres,” called “Merrf syndrome” for short.   Mitochondrial Replacement Technology, or MRT, aims to prevent diseases passed through mitochondrial DNA by transferring the mother’s nuclear DNA to a donor egg in which the nucleus has been removed but the mitochondria remains.   Described as “radical therapy” by the UK’s The Guardian, the process was legalized by Britain’s Parliament in 2015 and was met with a huge uproar from religious leaders and ethicists.   Britain’s Newcastle University received a license in March all...

Stopping Epilepsy Before It Starts?

“Being able to identify that a person is likely to develop epilepsy following a brain injury is one of the most important focus areas in modern-day epilepsy research,” says Dr. Laura Lubbers, CURE’s Chief Scientific Officer. “With 3.4 million Americans suffering from epilepsy and seizures in the U.S., this discovery of a predictive biomarker for a certain form of epilepsy could prevent unpredictable seizures from taking over the lives of millions of Americans and their families.”   New research, funded by Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), has discovered a ‘smoking gun’ biomarker that could result in treatments that stop some epilepsies before they even start.   Using a rat model of brain injury and epilepsy, CURE-funded researcher Dr. Annamaria Vezzani and her team...

Researchers move closer to solving puzzle of 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome

Researchers are closer to solving the puzzle of a complex neurological condition called 15q13.3 microdeletion syndrome. Individuals with this condition are missing a small piece of chromosome 15 that usually contains six genes, but which one of the genes is responsible for the clinical characteristics of patients has not been clear. In this study, a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital has identified in a mouse model OTUD7A as the gene within the deleted region that accounts for many characteristics of the human condition. The researchers also discovered that mice deficient in the gene Otud7a have fewer dendritic spines, small protrusions involved in neuron communication, which might be related to the neurological deficits. The r...

Engineer Locates Brain’s Seizure Onset Zone In Record Time

University of Houston biomedical engineer is reporting a dramatic decrease in the time it takes to detect the seizure onset zone (SOZ), the actual part of the brain that causes seizures, in patients with epilepsy.   Nearly 30 percent of epilepsy patients are resistant to drug therapy, so they have the option of surgery to remove their seizure onset zones. Most of them opt in, according to assistant professor Nuri Ince, noting the improved quality of life for sufferers.

Embrace by Empatica is the world’s first smart watch to be cleared by FDA for use in Neurology

Empatica Inc has received clearance from the FDA for Embrace, its award-winning smart watch. Embrace uses AI (advanced machine learning) to monitor for the most dangerous kinds of seizures, known as “grand mal” or “generalized tonic-clonic” seizures, and send an alert to summon caregivers’ help.

Individual patient data allow researchers to study brain function using detailed simulations

Using patient measurement data, researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health have refined a brain modeling platform called the Virtual Brain. The software has been used in projects and publications across the globe. The latest findings have been published in eLife.   PHOTO CREDIT: The Virtual Brain is an open-source tool for the simulation of brain networks. Credit: Jessica Palmer/The Virtual Brain

Deep Learning Device Can Predict Epileptic Seizures

Imagine going about your daily life, working, shopping, and driving, knowing that you might have a seizure at any moment. But relief is on the horizon, as researchers from the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia have developed a potentially life-saving deep learning tool that can predict when an epileptic seizure is about to happen. Their study was published in the journal eBioMedicine last month. The deep learning-based prediction system “achieved mean sensitivity of 69% and mean time warning of 27%, significantly surpassing an equivalent random predictor for all patients by 42%,” according to the findings.

Who’s This? -Can’t Recall A Famous Person’s Name? Blame Your Left Brain

The study – led by University of Manchester psychologists – is the first of its kind to assess the similarities and differences in how the left and right sides of the brain process semantic memory. The research, led by Dr Grace Rice and Professor Matthew Lambon Ralph from The University of Manchester, was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council. The team – working with neuropsychologists at Salford Royal and The Walton Centre for neurology in Liverpool – worked with 41 patients who had part of their brains removed to treat their long-standing epilepsy.

Brain training devised by Brighton researcher cuts epileptic seizures

Brain training devised by a Brighton clinical researcher can cut the number and frequency of epileptic seizures in patients who have not responded to drug treatment.   Details of the groundbreaking research have been published in The Lancet and Cell Press journal Ebiomedicine.   One in 100 people suffer with epilepsy – 50 million people worldwide – with about 30 per cent of them apparently unable to benefit from drugs to manage the condition.   About half of those taking part in clinical trials reported that the technique reduced seizures by 50 per cent or more.   It was invented by Yoko Nagai, Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, run jointly by Brighton University and Sussex University.   The technique is seen as an alternative...

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