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Research

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...

Stem cell discovery could aid in developing treatments to control epileptic convulsions

A new line of human stem cells shows promise for one day advancing treatment for epileptic seizures. As reported in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine (SCTM), the cells are designed to deliver adenosine – which calms down overexcited neurons and protects them from damage — to the central nervous system (CNS). The research was conducted by scientists at the University of Bonn and the Central Institute of Mental Health (CIMH) in Mannheim. Adenosine is a powerful regulator that helps the body maintain its inner balance. When an injury occurs to the CNS, it releases high levels of adenosine, which calms down the overexcited neurons and alleviates neurological damage caused by stroke, trauma, reduced oxygen, pain and, in particular, epileptic seizures. “But attempts to systemically deliver adeno...

How a Fish Lights Up Could Lead to New Treatments for Epilepsy

The Brienomyrus brachyistius, a fish commonly referred to as baby whales, uses electrical charges to communicate with and sense the world around them. Understanding how these African fish create electrical discharges could help researchers find new treatments for epilepsy. Photo Credit: Univ. of Michigan “Nerve impulses typically last one millisecond, but the baby whale and other related weakly electric fish make extremely brief discharges of less than a few tenths of a millisecond. That means that the ion channels of their electric organs must open and close especially rapidly. By studying the molecular structure and biophysical properties of the ion channels of their electric organ we are discovering how their channels evolved these exceptional properties. This gives us insights in...

Soundwaves and viruses used to ‘switch off’ memory formation

Tool could open up the brain to precision DNA-editing techniques which allow cellular functions to be turned on or changed at will Researchers have shown it’s possible to temporarily block the brain from forming new memories using a combination of sound waves, viruses and drugs. Using ultrasound blasts California Institute of Technology (Caltech) researchers have been able to temporarily open the brain’s protective barrier to treatments, where usually surgery would be required. In this way they hope it could one day be possible to non-invasively manage epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions that currently rely on going under the knife. However in the shorter term it is more likely the advance, dubbed “acoustically targeted chemogenetics” in the journal ...

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.