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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 ...

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.

This funky helmet makes brain-scanning more comfortable

It can make scanning kids and patients with movement problems much easier.   See that helmet in the photo up there? That’s not a prop for a new sci-fi/horror flick — it’s a magnetoencephalography (MEG) helmet that can scan the brain and map its activity. MEG machines are used to look for pathological activity in patients with epilepsy and for brain tumor patients’ surgical planning. The machines are typically, humongous, heavy and can’t do their job if subjects don’t stay perfectly still, which means it’s hard to scan kids with epilepsy or people with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders. This helmet designed by scientists from the University of Nottingham and University College London will work even if the patient is moving.

UC granted $1.75 million to develop potential cures for acquired epilepsy

University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center Research scientist Jianxiong Jiang, PhD, doesn’t just want to treat acquired epilepsy…he hopes to prevent it. “Epilepsy is a common neurological condition that afflicts nearly three million Americans and 50 to 60 million people globally. The disease is featured by epileptic seizures due to unusual hypersynchronization and hyperexcitability of a group of brain neurons,” says Jiang, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati (UC) James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy.

Epilepsy study links mossy brain cells to seizures and memory loss

NIH-funded study in mice suggests loss of mossy cells plays a critical role in both. New findings in a study of mice suggest that a loss of mossy cells may contribute to seizures and memory problems in a form of epilepsy.Ivan Soltesz, Ph.D., Stanford University.   A small group of cells in the brain can have a big effect on seizures and memory in a mouse model of epilepsy. According to a new study in Science, loss of mossy cells may contribute to convulsive seizures in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) as well as memory problems often experienced by people with the disease. The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Research reveals how brains develop the right mix of cells

Scientists have discovered a mechanism that controls the mix of cells in the developing brain, which could help us to understand and treat conditions such as epilepsy.   Broadly speaking, our brains contain two types of nerve cells or ‘neurons’: excitatory neurons, which increase activity in other neurons, and inhibitory interneurons, which dampen activity between neurons. The balance between the two forces of excitation and inhibition is thought to be critical for maintaining stable activity in healthy brains, and the disruption of this balance has been implicated in epilepsy, schizophrenia, intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorders.

Stopping Epilepsy Before It Starts?

“Being able to identify that a person is likely to develop epilepsy following a brain injury is one of the most important focus areas in modern-day epilepsy research,” says Dr. Laura Lubbers, CURE’s Chief Scientific Officer. “With 3.4 million Americans suffering from epilepsy and seizures in the U.S., this discovery of a predictive biomarker for a certain form of epilepsy could prevent unpredictable seizures from taking over the lives of millions of Americans and their families.”   New research, funded by Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), has discovered a ‘smoking gun’ biomarker that could result in treatments that stop some epilepsies before they even start.   Using a rat model of brain injury and epilepsy, CURE-funded researcher Dr. Annamaria Vezzani and her team...

Engineer Locates Brain’s Seizure Onset Zone In Record Time

University of Houston biomedical engineer is reporting a dramatic decrease in the time it takes to detect the seizure onset zone (SOZ), the actual part of the brain that causes seizures, in patients with epilepsy.   Nearly 30 percent of epilepsy patients are resistant to drug therapy, so they have the option of surgery to remove their seizure onset zones. Most of them opt in, according to assistant professor Nuri Ince, noting the improved quality of life for sufferers.