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Research

Research reveals underappreciated role of brainstem in epilepsy

New research from Vanderbilt suggests that repeated seizures reduce brainstem connectivity, a possible contributor to unexplained neurocognitive problems in epilepsy patients. The brainstem has been rarely studied in epilepsy because seizures typically originate in the temporal lobe or other areas of the cortex. Noting that people with temporal lobe epilepsy often lose consciousness even though the temporal lobe does not control wakefulness, Dario Englot, MD, Ph.D., surgical director of epilepsy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said he decided to focus on the region that does control wakefulness—the brainstem. He hypothesized that connectivity disruptions with the brainstem resulting from a history of seizures might play a role in diminished cognitive functions that are not related...

Prediction method for epileptic seizures developed

Epileptic seizures strike with little warning and nearly one third of people living with epilepsy are resistant to treatment that controls these attacks. More than 65 million people worldwide are living with epilepsy.

Personalizing therapeutic brain stimulation

Research could inform development of individualized stimulation protocols for neuropsychiatric disorders   A study of epilepsy patients with implanted electrodes provides an unprecedented view of the changes in brain activity created by electrical stimulation. These findings, published in JNeurosci, have the potential to improve noninvasive stimulation approaches toward the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.   Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is increasingly used in patients with disorders such as depression that do not respond well to medication or psychotherapy. Although the effects of stimulation on the motor cortex have been characterized in animal models and humans, its effects on other brain areas — including the prefrontal cortex, the target ...

Researchers discover novel mode of neurotransmitter-based communication

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine have discovered the first example of a novel mode of neurotransmitter-based communication. The discovery, published in Nature Communications, challenges current dogma about mechanisms of signaling in the brain, and uncovers new pathways for developing therapies for disorders like epilepsy, anxiety and chronic pain.

Mechanism underlying malformation associated with severe epilepsy is revealed

Study suggests dysregulation of gene NEUROG2 could be linked to development of focal cortical dysplasia, one of the most common causes of drug-resistant epilepsy   One of the most frequent causes of drug-resistant epilepsy, considered a difficult disease to control, is a brain malformation known as focal cortical dysplasia.   Patients with this problem present with discreet disorganization in the architecture of a specific region of the cortex, which may or may not be associated with the presence of nerve cells that have structural and functional abnormalities.

Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Treatment Commences Clinical Trial Recruitment

This week, AMO Pharma Limited announced the commencement of patient recruitment for an interventional study of AMO-01, an investigational Ras-ERK pathway inhibitor for the treatment of Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMS).   “Treatment of Phelan-McDermid syndrome represents a significant area of unmet need in healthcare, and AMO Pharma is grateful to the research team at Mt. Sinai as well as the Phelan McDermid Syndrome Foundation for their commitment to this landmark research effort,” said Michael Snape, PhD, CEO of AMO Pharma. “Research thus far indicates that AMO-01 could have important applications in the treatment of patients living with Phelan-McDermid syndrome in the years ahead.”

Red Sea fungus yields leads for new epilepsy drugs

New treatments for epilepsy are sorely needed because current medications don’t work for many people with the disease. To find new leads, researchers have now turned to the sea — a source of unique natural products that have been largely untapped for prospective drugs. The scientists report in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience that two metabolites produced by a fungus from the Red Sea look promising.

Memory-boosting brain implants are in the works. Would you get one?

Neural prostheses look promising in new studies, though there’s still a lot of work to do.   How far would you go to keep your mind from failing? Would you go so far as to let a doctor drill a hole in your skull and stick a microchip in your brain?   It’s not an idle question. In recent years neuroscientists have made major advances in cracking the code of memory, figuring out exactly how the human brain stores information and learning to reverse-engineer the process. Now they’ve reached the stage where they’re starting to put all of that theory into practice.   Last month two research teams reported success at using electrical signals, carried into the brain via implanted wires, to boost memory in small groups of test patients. “It’s a major milestone in demonstrating...

Repairing a leaky blood-brain barrier in epilepsy

Study of rodent brain capillaries identifies pathway that contributes to blood-brain barrier dysfunction in epilepsy! Blocking the activity of an enzyme that interferes with the blood-brain barrier, contributing to the generation of recurring seizures, may provide a new way to treat epilepsy that is resistant to anti-seizure drugs, according to a study of rats and mice published in JNeurosci.   One-third of people with epilepsy, one of the most common neurological disorders, do not respond well to current treatments for managing seizures. Part of this challenge is that seizures erode the lining of capillaries in the brain that let nutrients in and keeps toxins out. A “leaky” blood-brain barrier, in turn, leads to more seizures. Understanding how this cycle occurs is necess...

Antiepileptic drugs linked with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, says research

According to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, DZNE, antiepileptic drugs are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.   The clinical investigation, led by Heidi Taipale from the University of Eastern Finland, evaluated the data of nearly 100,000 individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (from Germany and Finland) to see if there was a link between continuous use of antiepileptics and these neurodegenerative diseases and compared it with controls.

Educational Attainment Down With In Utero Exposure to AEDs

Exposure to sodium valproate or a combination of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in utero is associated with worse attainment on national educational tests for 7-year-olds, according to a study published online March 26 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry. Arron S. Lacey, from Swansea University Medical School in the United Kingdom, and colleagues identified children born to mothers with epilepsy and linked these children to their national attainment Key Stage 1 (KS1) tests in mathematics, language, and science at age 7. The children were compared with matched children born to mothers without epilepsy.

How to record 1 million neurons in real time

An innovative new method might allow scientists to translate the information coming from more than 1 million neurons at once, as well as decode the activity as it happens.   The brain produces big data like no other organ, but can we tame it?   Over the past few decades, the amount of data produced in everyday life has exploded.

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