News from Epilepsy Research UK

What is the link between metabolism and brain activity?

Posted 19 Feb 2014 in News from Epilepsy Research UK

  Neurons usually communicate with each other via small gateways called synapses, using special chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are either excitatory (causing the next neuron to fire a signal) or inhibitory (causing the next neuron to remain silent), and in order to work they must bind to a structure called a receptor. The major excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the read more

Levetiracetam in pregnancy: encouraging findings

Posted 15 Jan 2014 in News from Epilepsy Research UK

Background For women with epilepsy, seizure control during pregnancy is very important; however exposure to some anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) can be harmful to babies’ development. Pregnancy planning for these women therefore comes with some very difficult decisions, and they need to be given thorough advice from a specialist. A number of studies have investigated specific AEDs for adverse effects, but read more

One step closer to SUDEP prevention

The term sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) describes a devastating situation in which a person with epilepsy dies unexpectedly with no obvious cause. It affects between 500 and 1,000 people in the UK each year, and people with severe syndromic forms of epilepsy (e.g. Dravet syndrome) are particularly at risk. SUDEP is thought to result from disturbances in heart read more

Home testing for epilepsy pioneered in the UK

A hospital in the UK has become the first to pioneer home testing for epilepsy. This could not only help to address the problem of epilepsy misdiagnosis, but could also avoid the stress of hospital visits. If a person experiences multiple seizures, they should be referred to hospital for neurological assessment in case they have epilepsy. This almost always involves read more

Does the ketogenic diet affect growth?

Researchers in Australia have been the first to investigate the fine balance between seizure control and healthy growth in children on the ketogenic diet. Background A ketogenic diet (KD) of high fat, low carbohydrate and adequate protein has been used to treat children with drug-resistant epilepsy for almost 100 years. Despite being very effective for some, several studies suggest that read more

Important new guidance regarding anti-epileptic drugs

Posted 27 Nov 2013 in News from Epilepsy Research UK

Click here to jump directly to new MHRA guidance The Government’s Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued new guidance regarding the prescribing and dispensing of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). This could have important implications for people with epilepsy. Background The Medicines Act 1968 states that a pharmacist must dispense the exact drug that is written on a prescription. read more

A step closer to seizure prediction

Researchers in America have developed a piece of software that might one day be used in the development of a seizure prediction device. Background Approximately a third of people with epilepsy don’t respond to anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) and they continue to experience recurrent seizures. The ability to predict an on-coming seizure would be life-transforming, and in some cases life-saving; and research read more

Understanding brain networks in temporal lobe epilepsy

In 2011 Professor Mark Richardson and colleagues, at King’s College London, were awarded an 18-month grant by Epilepsy Research UK for a project entitled Dissecting abnormal cortico-subcortical brain networks in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy using neuroimaging. The final report for this study has now been submitted. Background Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is a very common form of epilepsy, but it read more

A possible target for new epilepsy treatments

Background information The major role of neurons is to carry messages between different parts of the body. These are transmitted in an electrical form, and they must often travel along several consecutive neurons to reach their destination. Neighbouring neurons communicate with each other through structures known as synapses, which have very narrow gaps. Special chemicals known as a neurotransmitters are read more

A promising new target for anti-epileptic drug development

Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) work in various ways to reduce excitation in the brain and prevent seizures. However even the newest AEDS can cause unpleasant side-effects, such as tiredness, dizziness and memory loss.  This is because once AEDs enter the brain, they don’t just act on the area where seizures originate, they act throughout the brain; and this can cause a read more

A new culprit gene for common childhood epilepsies

Introduction Epilepsy affects more than 50 million people worldwide, and about a third of these are children. The most common forms of childhood epilepsy have no known cause (they are referred to as idiopathic) and are focal (they only affect certain regions of the brain). They all fall under the general term ‘idiopathic focal epilepsy’ (IFE), but the most common read more

A breakthrough for severe childhood epilepsies

Introduction The epileptic encephalopathies (EEs) are a group of severe neurological disorders, which are characterised by seizure onset in early childhood and are often associated with cognitive and behavioural problems. EEs tend to subside in teenage years, but very often the cognitive problems remain; and this has an enormous impact on both the person affected and their family. Treatment of read more

Improving seizure control in tuberous sclerosis

Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an inheritable condition that affects approximately 1 in 6000 newborn babies, and around 1 million people worldwide. It is characterised by the appearance of benign tumors, which can arise in any organ at any time between childhood and adulthood. TSC can cause significant problems with heart, kidney and lung function, and it can also lead read more

Recognising when epilepsy is linked to Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) carries a significantly increased risk of seizures, and it is estimated that 10-22% of people with AD develop unprovoked seizures at some point (the higher rates being associated with hereditary/early-onset AD). People who have AD in combination with a seizure disorder suffer greater cognitive decline and more rapid progression of symptoms than those with AD alone; and read more

Renewed promise for cell therapy in epilepsy

Neurons communicate with each other via chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters, which are either excitatory or inhibitory. An excitatory neurotransmitter causes the ‘next’ neuron to fire an electrical signal, whilst an inhibitory one causes it remain inactive. The major excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain are known as glutamate and GABA respectively, and a fine balance between the two must be read more

The EU Commission recognises neurological research as a priority

Brain research is moving up the EU political agenda thanks to the work of two advocacy groups: the European Brain Council and the European Federation of Neurological Associations. Due to their efforts, the European Commission has now recognised the need for better care for people with neurological disorders, and it named May 2013 ‘European Month of the Brain’. The month read more

Non-invasive pre-surgical planning

Before performing epilepsy surgery or removing a brain tumour, neurosurgeons must locate the regions of the brain that are involved in language and memory, so that they can avoid damaging them. This so called mapping of the brain is currently achieved through electrocortical stimulation (ECS), whereby electrodes are placed on different parts of the brain surface and electrical activity in read more

A new culprit gene for epilepsy

For approximately 60% of people with epilepsy the cause of their condition is not known and it is simply referred to as idiopathic. In recent years there has been a growing interest in epilepsy susceptibility genes, and approximately 13 have been identified in humans to date. Susceptibility genes do not necessarily cause epilepsy, but they render a person more likely read more

A research update from the University of Manchester

Seizures fuel seizures. In other words, if people who experience small seizure episodes are not treated, they can go on to have larger more frequent seizures. Despite years of research, our understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms of seizure progression is incomplete. Research using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, in the laboratory of Professor Richard Baines at The University of Manchester, has uncovered read more

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