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Epilepsy Research

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.

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.

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.

‘Minibrains’ In A Dish Shed A Little Light On Autism And Epilepsy

Tiny, 3-D clusters of human brain cells grown in a petri dish are providing hints about the origins of disorders like autism and epilepsy. An experiment using these cell clusters — which are only about the size of the head of a pin — found that a genetic mutation associated with both autism and epilepsy kept developing cells from migrating normally from one cluster of brain cells to another, researchers report in the journal Nature.

Chinese, US scientists’ research may help cure cancer, epilepsy, aging

When Yuan Yingjin turned 54 on March 10, he had two unusual presents: some yeast chromosomes and acclaim in China’s national news. That day, research into assembling four synthetic yeast chromosomes, completed by his Tianjin University research team and scientists at Tsinghua University and BGI-Shenzhen, was published in the famous journal Science. The achievement made China the second country after the US capable of designing and building eukaryotic genomes.

Study reveals how genetic defects can lead to childhood epilepsy

New King’s College London research reveals how genetic defects can lead to epilepsy in children. In their new study, published in Scientific Reports and funded by Eli Lilly and Co., the researchers set out to understand how genetic defects affect electrical transmission in the brain. Understanding exactly how nerve cells are misfiring and creating seizures in children with epilepsy will allow researchers to design better, more personalised treatments for epilepsy.

Research at Stanford locates absence epilepsy seizure ‘choke point’ in brain

A particular structure in the brain is a “choke point” for a type of epileptic seizure that affects mostly children, Stanford University School of Medicine investigators have found. The researchers used an advanced technology called optogenetics to show, in rodent models of one of the most common forms of childhood epilepsy, that inducing synchronized, rhythmic activity in a specific nerve tract within this structure is sufficient to cause seizures, while disrupting that activity is sufficient to terminate them.

Seizure Frequency and Number of AEDs Play Role in Risk Factors for SUDEP

SUDEP is the most common “direct epilepsy-related” cause of death in persons with epilepsy. While the risk for is still relatively low for all patients, our understanding of SUDEP is also relatively low. Researchers in Korea recently conducted and published a study that investigates clinical variables in correlation with SUDEP in order to identify risk factors. Twenty-six SUDEP cases and 78 controls were included in the study. 

One Scientist’s Quest To Vanquish Epileptic Seizures

In the early 1990s, a young brain researcher named Ivan Soltesz heard a story that would shape his career. His adviser told him about a school for children whose epileptic seizures were so severe and frequent that they had to wear helmets to prevent head injuries. The only exception to the helmet rule was for students who received an award. “The big problem with current medications is precisely that the medication is everywhere in the brain. It’s affecting virtually all the cells all the time. – Ivan Soltesz “The big deal for them is that they can take the helmet off while they’re walking across the stage,” Soltesz says. “And that thing struck me as just wrong.” Today, Soltesz runs a lab at the University of California, Irvine, and he’s taken...

Fatboy Slim Enters Half Marathon To Fight Epilepsy

Internationally acclaimed DJ Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, is to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday 6th October to raise money for Young Epilepsy, the national charity dedicated to improving the lives of young people with the condition. Last year more than 12,000 runners completed the Royal Parks 13.1 mile route, which passes through Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James’s Park and Green Park. This year, for the first time, a 20 strong Young Epilepsy team including Norman Cook will be among them, donning purple running vests and helping to raise more than £6000 to support children and young people with the condition. A keen runner, Cook completed the inaugural Brighton Marathon in 2010, and last year, at the Brighton Half Marathon, achieved a personal best time of 1 hour and 59 ...

Epilepsy patients help researchers uncover neurological basis of speech motor control

A team of researchers at UC San Francisco has uncovered the neurological basis of speech motor control, the complex coordinated activity of tiny brain regions that controls our lips, jaw, tongue and larynx as we speak. Described this week in the journal Nature, the work has potential implications for developing computer-brain interfaces for artificial speech communication and for the treatment of speech disorders. It also sheds light on an ability that is unique to humans among living creatures but poorly understood. “Speaking is so fundamental to who we are as humans – nearly all of us learn to speak,” said senior author Edward Chang, MD, a neurosurgeon at the UCSF EpilepsyCenter and a faculty member in the UCSF Center for Integrative Neuroscience. “But it’s ...

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