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 adenosine to needed areas in the CNS during a crisis have been hampered by adenosine’s fast metabolic breakdown, the inability to sufficiently permeate the blood-brain-barrier and serious side effects of such cardiac suppression,” said Philipp Koch, M.D., of the Hector Institute for Translational Brain Research at the CIMH. Dr. Koch headed up the study described in SCTM, which was conducted at the Institute of Reconstructive Neurobiology of the University of Bonn Medical Faculty together with Dr. Oliver Brüstle.
Researchers at Cardiff University’s School of Medicine are about to explore whether it’s possible to treat human temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) by transplanting immature neuron cells into the brain.
The new project, funded by a 24-month pilot grant from Epilepsy Research UK (ERUK), will allow the team to carry out research vital to the progression of this form of TLE treatment to human clinical trials, which could potentially take place in the next 3-5 years.
A chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures, epilepsy affects over 600,000 people nationwide, with 32,000 people newly diagnosed with the condition each year. With TLE a loss/dysfunction of interneurons in the hippocampus of the brain is one of the earliest changes. In theory, it should be possible to address this balance by replacing these lost/damaged interneurons with new ones, and experimental attempts to do this have been promising. (more…)
The simple act of running may be sufficient to prevent long-term cognitive impairments caused by prenatal exposure to antiepileptic drugs, according to a study published November 19th in Stem Cell Reports, the journal of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. The findings revealed that prenatal exposure to a commonly used antiepileptic drug called valproic acid (VPA) inhibited the birth of new neurons in the brains of adult mice and impaired their performance on learning and memory tasks. Remarkably, these postnatal side effects were largely prevented when the mice were given access to a running wheel at a young age. (more…)
The mission of neural stem cells located in the hippocampus, one of the main regions of the brain, is to generate new neurons during the adult life of mammals, including human beings, of course, and their function is to participate in certain types of learning and responses to anxiety and stress. Using an epilepsy model in genetically modified mice, the researchers have discovered that hippocampal neural stem cells stop generating new neurons and are turned into reactive astrocytes, a cell type that promotes inflammation and alters communication between neurons.
This research work has also made it possible to confirm the hypothesis in a previous piece of research by these researchers; this hypothesis established that even though neuronal hyperexcitation does not go as far as to cause convulsions, it does induce the massive activation of neural stem cells and their resulting premature exhaustion; as a result, neurogenesis (generation of new neurons) in the hippocampus ends up chronically reduced. (more…)
New research from North Carolina State University pinpoints the areas of the cerebral cortex that are affected in mice with absence epilepsy and shows that transplanting embryonic neural cells into these areas can alleviate symptoms of the disease by reducing seizure activity. The work may help identify the areas of the human brain affected in absence epilepsy and lead to new therapies for sufferers.
Absence epilepsy primarily affects children. These seizures differ from “clonic-tonic” seizures in that they don’t cause muscle spasms; rather, patients “zone out” or stare into space for a period of time, with no memory of the episode afterward. Around one-third of patients with absence epilepsy fail to respond to medication, demonstrating the complexity of the disease.
NC State neurobiology professor Troy Ghashghaei and colleagues looked at a genetic mouse model for absence epilepsy to determine what was happening in their brains during these seizures. They found that the seizures were accompanied by hyperactivity in the areas of the brain associated with vision and touch – areas referred to as primary visual and primary somatosensory cortices in the occipital and parietal lobes, respectively. (more…)