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Insight without incision: Advances in noninvasive brain imaging offers improvements to epilepsy surgery

About a third of epilepsy sufferers require treatment through surgery. To check for severe epilepsy, clinicians use a surgical procedure called electrocorticography (ECoG). An ECoG maps a section of brain tissue to help clinicians identify areas damaged by seizures. “But ECoG requires taking a part of your skull out and putting electrodes directly on brain tissue,” said Professor Pulkit Grover, a professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. An ECoG thus leaves a patient prone to infection. To find an alternative to ECoG, Grover’s team investigated making the non-invasive electroencephalogram (EEG) more effective by increasing electrode density and improving inference algorithms. He and the team recently presented their...

Study: Protein found to be key component in irregularly excited brain cells

In a new study in mice, researchers have identified a key protein involved in the irregular brain cell activity seen in autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy. The protein, p53, is well-known in cancer biology as a tumor suppressor. The findings, reported in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, will open new avenues for understanding the factors that contribute to these developmental disabilities, said Nien-Pei Tsai, a University of Illinois professor of molecular and integrative physiology who led the new research. “Under physiologically normal circumstances, neurons are able to readjust their excitability: the strength at which neurons are firing,” Tsai said. “But in autism spectrum disorders, such as Fragile X syndrome, and in epilepsy, you see higher levels of excita...

Protein Found In Worms Helps To Stop Seizure Activity

Exciting new research that involves using a protein in worms to suppress seizures, could spell hope in the future for thousands of people with epilepsy. Scientists at University College London (UCL) have used a chemical found in worms to reduce seizure activity in  the brains of epileptic rats. The chemical produces a protein that quietens down brain activity when glutamate levels build up causing neuronal excitement in the brain. The chemical is delivered into the brain by injecting it through the skull inside a harmless virus. Using a technique called gene therapy, this enables the worm DNA to spread throughout the brain. Great hope for the future Epilepsy Society’s medical director Professor Ley Sander described the new technique as very promising but cautioned that there was stil...

Understanding absence epilepsy

Research by Cardiff University has uncovered the brain activity that underlies absence epilepsy, offering new hope for the development of innovative therapies for this disabling disease. Absence epilepsy – the most common form of epilepsy in children and teenagers – causes episodes of lack of awareness which are often mistaken for daydreaming. The brain activity that causes this form of epilepsy has remained poorly understood, until recent research has observed this activity for the first time. An international team of researchers led by Professor Vincenzo Crunelli, from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, investigated the types of electrical activity that occurred in the brains of mice during an absence seizure. Professor Crunelli said: “Although the origin of absence epilepsy rem...

Implantable Device Provides New Treatment Option for Epilepsy Patients

Richard Pollitt was at the end of his rope after years of suffering regular seizures, with some lasting five minutes and preventing him from working and enjoying his favorite pastimes. Desperate for relief after medications did not work, Pollitt had a small battery-powered device implanted in his skull to control seizures. Now he rarely has them. Photo Credit: Houston Methodist After experiencing four to five seizures a week for six years, Richard Pollitt, left, had a device implanted in his brain to help prevent seizures. The device provides data that allows his physician, Houston Methodist neurologist Amit Verma, M.D., right, to track the activity of his brain and the device to improve care.

Medical cannabis for epilepsy approved in FDA first

In the context of an ever-louder international debate on whether patients with severe forms of epilepsy should be allowed to use medical cannabis to manage their condition, the Food and Drug Administration have just officially approved one such drug.   The Food and Drug Administration have just approved a cannabis-based drug for the first time.  

Adjunctive Everolimus Reduces Seizure Frequency in Tuberous Sclerosis

Adjunctive everolimus therapy is safe and effective for reducing the frequency of seizures in pediatric patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), according to a post-hoc analysis of a phase 3, prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the May 23 online edition of The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.   Epileptic seizures in TSC are difficult to treat, because most patients become treatment refractory. Typically, the onset of epilepsy occurs during infancy and early childhood, which makes treatment decisions difficult.

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.

Social Security Probed For Disability Case Delays

A lack of support staff, low morale and bad management are being cited by a government watchdog report as reasons for problems that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is having in providing adequate customer service to the millions of individuals who rely on its benefits.   For years, the SSA has faced criticisms for the lengthy delays on hearings for disability and other types of benefits. A new report by the agency’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigated issues involving how long it takes for disability and other cases that require hearings to be processed.

Advanced brain scanner allows neuroimaging in moving subjects

A new innovation in brain scanner technology promises high-resolution neuroimaging in subjects without restricting their head and body movements. Neurons are specialized cells that are designed to generate electrochemical signals. These signals are the currency used to transmit information across the body. Neurons connect the brain, spinal cord, and each nook and cranny of our body to form information highways, transmitting sensory and motor information to different cells and other neurons in the body in the form of electrical impulses. Electrical currents also produce a magnetic field, proportional to the magnitude of the current that is producing it.

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.