A closer look at ……GLUTAMATE

Cells in the brain must communicate with each other to function correctly. They do this using chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters travel to neighbouring cells through junctions called synapses. Glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter in the body.

Although glutamate is vital for the healthy functioning of the brain, research has found abnormal patterns of glutamate immediately before epileptic seizures. In fact, some epilepsy drugs target glutamate’s receptors in the brain in order to prevent seizures.

When someone has a brain tumour, this sometimes causes seizures, even after surgery to remove the tumour.

Mr Ashan Jayasekera, a neurosurgical trainee, has been given an Epilepsy Research UK fellowship grant to investigate whether high levels of glutamate cause seizures in patients with brain tumours. If this is the case, surgeons will be able to map brain tumour removal surgery so that patients will have fewer seizures. You can read more about Mr Jayasekera’s research project here:

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