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Epilepsy biomarkers pave way for noninvasive diagnosis, better treatments

Researchers have identified a unique metabolic signature associated with epileptic brain tissue that causes seizures. The chemical biomarker can be detected noninvasively using technology based on magnetic resonance imaging. It will allow physicians to precisely identify small regions of abnormal brain tissue in early-stage epilepsy patients that can’t be detected today using current technology. The biomarker could also be used to localize epileptic brain regions for therapeutic removal without the need for additional surgery.

Potential Surgery Treatment for Certain Epilepsy Patients, Review Says

A technique called MRI-guided laser interstitial thermal therapy (MgLiTT) may be a potential treatment for epilepsy patients, according to a recent review. Researchers say that MgLiTT may be a particularly viable option for patients whose seizures are caused by tumor-like bodies affecting the hypothalamus, which are difficult to treat with traditional surgery.

What is the vagus nerve?

The vagus nerve is the longest and most complex of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves that emanate from the brain. It transmits information to or from the surface of the brain to tissues and organs elsewhere in the body. The name “vagus” comes from the Latin term for “wandering.” This is because the vagus nerve wanders from the brain into organs in the neck, chest, and abdomen.

Researchers Identify New Link Between Gene Expression and Brain Memory Processing

Researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas have discovered that more than 100 genes are linked to memory processing in the brain. The discovery could lead to the development of new therapies for memory-associated conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and others, the study’s authors said.

Molecule may help maintain brain’s synaptic balance

Many neurological diseases are malfunctions of synapses, or the points of contact between neurons that allow senses and other information to pass from finger to brain. In the brain, there is a careful balance between the excitatory synapses that allow messages to pass, and the inhibitory synapses that dampen the signal. When that balance is off, the brain becomes unable to process information normally, leading to conditions like epilepsy.

Noninvasive Deep Brain Stimulation Can Become Reality, Mouse Study Shows

Researchers have, for the first time, showed that it is possible to stimulate structures deep within the brain without the need for implanted electrodes — opening the possibility that epilepsy patients could receive deep brain stimulation in a noninvasive manner. The method applies scalp electrodes that send two currents into the brain. Brain cells only become stimulated in the spot where the two currents intersect, making it possible to easily change the exact size and location of the treatment.

Distinct wiring mode found in chandelier cells

Researchers at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience identify the wiring process of a unique type of inhibitory cells implicated in several diseases. A basic tenet of neural development is that young neurons make far more connections than they will actually use, with very little specificity. They selectively maintain only the ones that they end up needing. Once many of these connections are made, the brain employs a use-it or lose-it strategy; if the organism’s subsequent experiences stimulate the synapse, it will strengthen and survive. If not, the synapse will weaken and eventually disappear.

Secret of Epilepsy Discovered in Jerusalem?

Unable to figure out what causes the neurological disorder, the scientists thought to ask: What causes normal people (or lab animals) not to have it? Epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal activity in our brain. We know that. Attacks can be unprovoked or can be the result from a tendency that is created, for instance, by head trauma or exposure to certain stimuli. We know that too. We don’t know, however, is why some people are prone to epilepsy and some are not.

Stem Cell Therapy Shows Potential in Treating Medication-resistant Epilepsy Patients

Stem cell therapy may be a safe and promising treatment option for epilepsy patients who are resistant to antiepileptic drugs, according to new research. The study, “Treatment of refractory epilepsy patients with autologous mesenchymal stem cells reduces seizure frequency: An open label study,” was published  in the journal Advances in Medical Sciences. Stem cell therapy consists of using stem cells (immature cells that can become any other cell type in the body) to replace faulty cells and treat patients with a given disease. Many approaches include using the patient’s own stem cells (autologous stem cells), collected from specific organs, such as the bone marrow. This method prevents future complications such as rejection by the body or a response from the person’s immune system. The Pha...

Why some images trigger seizures

In people with photosensitive epilepsy, flashing lights are well known for their potential to trigger seizures. The results can be quite stunning. For instance, a particular episode of Pokémon sent 685 people in Japan to the hospital. But seizures can be triggered by certain still images, too. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on May 8 who have conducted an extensive review of the scientific literature think they know what it is about some static pictures that can trigger seizures.

Pinpointing where seizures are coming from, by looking between the seizures

A computational approach developed at Boston Children’s Hospital, described in the journal Neurosurgery, published online May 2, 2017, could enable more patients with epilepsy to benefit from surgery when medications do not help. The approach streamlines the seizure monitoring process required for surgical planning, making surgery a more feasible and less risky option for patients. Currently, for some patients, pinpointing the diseased brain areas where their seizures originate requires invasive surgery to place grids of electrodes on the brain’s surface. This is followed by long-term electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring—typically for a week—while doctors wait for a seizure to happen. Then, patients must undergo a second brain operation to remove the diseased tissue. The new...

Man’s best friend: Evolutionary history of dogs could shed light on cancer, epilepsy in both species

An evolutionary tree of more than 161 dog breeds has been mapped out by geneticists, showing which types are closely related to each other. The research will be of obvious interest to dog owners but it is hoped it will shed light on the causes of diseases that affect both dogs and humans, including epilepsy.

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