Brain science; genetics

Two specific proteins play 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

Temporal lobe epilepsy: a step closer to more effective treatments

Posted 13 Sep 2017 in Brain science; genetics

“I’m still uncontrolled. It completely changes your life. I now can no longer work and have issues getting out because of the unpredictability.” ERUK supporter experience of living with uncontrolled epilepsy. Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common form of epilepsy in adults, and it is often associated with scarring of an important memory structure called the hippocampus. This read more

Using maths to detect the source of seizures

Posted 25 Aug 2017 in Brain science; genetics

Researchers in Exeter are using mathematics to identify the areas of the brain that contribute most to epileptic seizures. Their approach could significantly improve the success rate of epilepsy surgery. This work is published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology. A bit of background People who are about to have epilepsy surgery often require an invasive procedure called an intracranial EEG read more

Study supports genetic testing for newborns with epilepsy

Research at the University of Michigan suggests that most cases of newborn epilepsy have an identifiable genetic cause and that genetic testing for all newborns with epilepsy should be considered. Knowing the genetic cause of epilepsy not only guides treatment (offering the chance of a better prognosis), it gives parents and families peace of mind. It also means that parents read more

Study supports genetic testing for childhood epilepsy

A brand new review, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, supports the routine use of genetic testing for early-onset epilepsy. If applied across the board, this could make diagnosis and treatment a lot more effective, and provide important information for family planning. The online site drugtargetreview.com has shared a summary of the work, which you can click here to read. Do return for read more

An exciting breakthrough for epilepsy diagnosis

Posted 21 Jul 2017 in Brain science; genetics

What would it mean if epilepsy could be diagnosed much earlier? More rapid treatment and fewer tests for sure, but it could also help reduce the incredible angst, frustration and general disruption that people often face whilst waiting for a diagnosis. Researchers at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) have discovered that complex cellular process in epileptic brain tissue leave read more

GeneLoop: Gene therapy activated by seizures to treat epilepsy – a new ERUK funded Fellowship

Gene therapy, in which the excitability of neurons is reduced via gene modification, holds promise as a treatment for drug-resistant focal epilepsy, and it could feasibly replace epilepsy surgery in the future. However, experimental gene therapies have revealed significant flaws in that they either a) have a permanent effect on neurons or b) require ‘re-administration’ each time a seizure occurs. read more

Is a micro-gene a factor in epileptic seizures?

Posted 19 Jun 2017 in Brain science; genetics

Seizures in epilepsy can be caused by genetic factors or they can be triggered by injury.  While we know that all brains are capable of generating seizures we do not know why some brains do not develop them.  A good example is epilepsy that develops as a result of an ischemic stroke.  Only some of the people who have an read more

The Hippocampus: What is it?

Posted 7 Jun 2017 in Brain science; genetics

When learning about the human brain, it’s helpful to remember that even the most powerful computer in the world is no match for this part of the human body. With its billions of nerve cells, and the thousands and thousands of connections each nerve cell makes, the brain gives new meaning to the word “complex.” There is much that scientists read more

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