Brain science; genetics

Alzheimer’s disease and antiepileptic medication

According to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland there is an increased risk of stroke among people with Alzheimer’s who are being treated with antiepileptic drugs.  The incidence of an epilepsy diagnosis is highest in those who are young or in those aged over 65.  Part of the reason for this increase in the older population is read more

Personal experience and scientific evidence – what does it feel like to have a seizure?

What does it feel like to have a seizure? Whilst neurologists will say that a seizure is caused by an over-excitation of neuronal activity in the brain, some people describe their experience as an ‘earthquake, starting slow and growing’. Now, studies at Jefferson (Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University), have shown that some types of seizure paradoxically begin with a read more

Brain tumours and epilepsy in children

Compared with the effects of brain tumours in adults, brain tumours in children cause additional problems and complications. One issue is that they can lead to intractable epilepsy. However the genetic cause of this hard-to-treat epilepsy in paediatric brain tumours is not yet fully understood and nor can it be effectively treated with existing epileptic drugs. Now a Korean research read more

Genetic epilepsies respond to epilepsy surgery in different ways

Technological advances in recent years mean that it is now easier, and considerably cheaper, to test people with epilepsy for underlying genetic causes. As a result of this, scientists have been able to uncover new genetic abnormalities linked to epilepsy. If scientists can understand the causes of a person’s epilepsy, they may be able to provide improved epilepsy treatments. This read more

Implant in brain detects, stops and prevents seizures

Researchers led by the University of Cambridge have successfully used an implanted device in the brain to detect, stop and prevent epileptic seizures in an animal model. When the first signals of a seizure were detected, the device delivered a naturally occurring brain chemical (a neurotransmitter) which stopped the seizure from progressing. There are many different types of epileptic seizure read more

Researchers find protein linked to the treatment of both epilepsy and bipolar disorder

A team of researchers from the Royal Holloway have found that one particular protein which was known to be implicated in both epilepsy and bipolar disorder seems to be the key linking the treatment of both disorders. Sodium valproate which is associated with an increased chance of birth defects if taken during pregnancy, is used in the treatment of both read more

Tailoring treatment for Early Infant Epileptic Encephalopathy

  Diagnosing epilepsy early is important as it means that treatment can start earlier and any associated developmental risks associated with the condition can be minimised. Research has found that more than 50 genes are associated with Early Infant Epileptic Encephalopathy (EIEE) but routine genetic tests fail in at least half the cases to pinpoint the cause of the condition. read more

Partnership between two specific proteins plays a key role in regulating the brain’s activity

Epilepsy is characterised by seizures caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Mapping the patterns of neuronal activity in the brain and understanding the dynamic between nerve cells could lead to better treatments for epilepsy. Researchers from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, working with a team of international scientists investigated how brain proteins interact to regulate the electrical read more

Using brain tissue to test the impact of treatments on epilepsy and other neurological conditions

Professor Jurgen Knoblich, a molecular biologist at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna is confident that the way to cost effectively test drugs for incurable neurological conditions is to use human brain tissue. To date most new drugs are initially tested on animal models and although the animals are specifically bred to show read more

Would you like to help further research into epilepsy?

Interested in taking part in epilepsy research? Then look no further. Professor Henry Houlden, from University College London, is looking for volunteers to take part in his research.  He aims to recruit as many people with epilepsy as possible who are willing to give a blood sample so that their genome can be sequenced.  This will help to identify any read more

Protein increases number of inhibitory synapses in the brain and reduces seizures

Researchers at Brandeis University have used a protein called Semaphorin 4D (Sema4D) to increase the number of inhibitory synapses in the brain and by so doing have dampened down the hyperexcitability of neurons responsible for epileptic seizures. Using an animal model, this has effectively reduced the severity of the seizures experienced. “Our idea is simple and has high impact potential,” read more

Structure of brain receptor implicated in epilepsy has been made clear for the first time

A receptor in the brain for a chemical messenger, called GABA, has long been implicated in various disorders such as epilepsy. Now, for the first time researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas, have been able to get a clear image of its structure.  “The implications are far-reaching for understanding mechanisms of drug binding and designing new drugs for read more

What is consciousness? Epilepsy patients being assessed for surgery bring us a step closer to understanding

Epilepsy patients being assessed for possible surgery have electrodes implanted in the brain in order to try to locate the precise area of the brain responsible for causing their seizures.  This provided an opportunity for researchers to discover more about ‘consciousness’.  Using the implanted electrodes, scientists were able to monitor the activity of individual neurons in the brain giving us read more

Brain activity responsible for absence seizures identified

An international team of researchers led by Professor Crunelli at Cardiff University have identified the brain activity that results in absence seizures. Absence epilepsy is the most common form of epilepsy in children and teenagers and causes periods of little or no awareness and can be mistaken for what looks like ‘daydreaming’ to the casual observer, but which is in read more

New hope for the treatment of intractable epilepsy

Posted 7 May 2018 in Brain science; genetics / Other treatments

Although the majority of people diagnosed with epilepsy will have their seizures controlled with medication a significant number of people will not respond satisfactorily to any current treatment.  We know that many seizures in severe forms of epilepsy originate in the hippocampus of the brain. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have shown that they were able to reduce seizures read more

Subtle differences found in the brains of people diagnosed with epilepsy

Posted 31 Jan 2018 in Brain science; genetics

New research led by University College London Hospital (UCLH) and the Keck School of Medicine of USC has identified physical differences in the brains of those with epilepsy, compared to those who do not have the condition.   In the largest ever neuro-imaging study of people with epilepsy, the researchers found that the brains of those with epilepsy exhibited a reduction read more

The link between CLOCK and epilepsy

Posted 16 Oct 2017 in Brain science; genetics

A Lack of a protein called ‘CLOCK’, which (unsurprisingly) helps to set our body clock, may play a role in some types of epilepsy. Within our cells are microscopic ‘clocks’ that influence a number of factors, e.g. hunger and sleepiness (see image below). They can also detect when the days are getting longer or shorter and generate seasonal changes. CLOCK read more

Exciting data about seizure spread

Posted 20 Sep 2017 in Brain science; genetics

New findings from the Universities of Twente (in the Netherlands) and Chicago have shown that even focal seizures can have ‘long-distance’ effects. Click here for a summary of the research, written by medicalexpress.com. The work is published in the scientific journal, PNAS. ERUK Fellow, Dr Rob Wykes, at University College London, is looking at how brain cells behave before, during read more

Common parasite linked to epilepsy and other brain disorders

Posted 15 Sep 2017 in Brain science; genetics

Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a very common parasite that is often associated with cats and is thought to cause very few symptoms and no serious effects in humans. However, research led by the University of Chicago has now shown that it might, in fact, play a role in the development of epilepsy and other brain disorders. The findings are published read more

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