Epilepsy and its causes

What’s new and exciting in epilepsy research?

We asked Dr Robert Wykes, a translational medicine scientist for his personal perspective.  Here is his response: Despite decades of new anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) reaching market, the problem of drug refractory epilepsy remains. 25-30% of patients do not respond appropriately to AEDs. However in recent years advances in technology and non-pharmacological approaches are beginning to address this clinical need. We read more

A closer look at ……..SYNAPTIC VESICLES

In order to conduct the millions of tasks the human brain completes every day, nerve cells must communicate with each other. Neighbouring cells are connected by junctions, which are called synapses. Chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, must travel from one cell to another across a synapse in order to deliver a message. Before travelling across synapses, these chemical messengers are stored read more

What does the future of Epilepsy Research hold?

Dr Simon Keller at the University of Liverpool was awarded a £73,220 project grant in this year’s funding round.  We asked Dr Keller and his colleague Professor Tony Marson for their perspective on what the next ten years of epilepsy research hold. This is what they said: “It is difficult to know for sure how treatments for seizures will improve read more

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

Sleep disorders and epilepsy

Sleep disorders in people with epilepsy can exacerbate their symptoms and often remains undiagnosed. Now researchers from Rutgers University have developed a tool to help neurologists identify people with obstructive sleep apnoea whose epilepsy may be magnified by their sleep disorder.  Identifying sleep disorders and treating them can help in seizure control in some people.  At the moment specialists have read more

Can we predict who will develop epilepsy following brain trauma?

Posted 25 Sep 2018 in Epilepsy and its causes / Epilepsy general

  Is it possible to predict those people who will develop epilepsy following brain trauma? Acquired epilepsy does not occur immediately after brain injury. Visible symptoms can occur months, or even years after the traumatic event, according to Professor Gluckman, professor of engineering science and mechanics, neurosurgery and biomedical engineering and associate director, Penn State Centre for Neural Engineering. In 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

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

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

A ‘baby whale’ may help to further our understanding of epilepsy

Researchers from the University of Texas believe that what they have learnt from a ‘baby whale’ which uses electrical pulses to navigate around its world may help humans in the future by shedding light on how those same electrical pathways operate in conditions such as epilepsy.  Their findings have the potential to further our understanding of the role of potassium 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

Re-purposing existing drugs for the treatment of epilepsy

Posted 11 Jun 2018 in Epilepsy and its causes / Epilepsy general

It is thought that between 30-40% of people with epilepsy have what is termed ‘refractory epilepsy’ as it is not controlled by current medication.  Seizures are the result of alterations in the balance in the excitatory and inhibitory electrical signals in the brain.  Precisely what causes these alterations is unclear.  But now French researchers from INSERM have recently published papers read more

Is the brainstem implicated in epilepsy?

People with epilepsy often complain about cognitive problems such as memory impairment and lack of concentration and focus.  This is particularly the case with patients diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy who also frequently lose consciousness.  Because seizures typically originate in the temporal lobe or other areas in the cortex of the brain (the surface of the structure rather than deep read more

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