News from Epilepsy Research UK

A possible new treatment target for refractory epilepsy

Every cell in our body has a protective scaffolding that is responsible for maintaining its shape. This scaffolding, known as a cytoskeleton, also enables the cell to move and plays an important role in cell division and intracellular transport (transport within the cell) of different molecules. In order for the cytoskeleton to function normally it needs to be stabilised, and read more

An unexpected culprit in seizure initiation

The neurons in the brain communicate with each other via molecules known as neurotransmitters, and these are either excitatory or inhibitory. An excitatory neurotransmitter causes the corresponding neuron to fire, whilst an inhibitory one causes it to rest. The main excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain are called glutamate and GABA respectively. If there is too much glutamate or read more

An exciting new avenue for epilepsy treatment development

A ketogenic diet, high in fat and low in carbohydrate, has been used in the treatment of drug-resistant (refractory) childhood epilepsy since the 1920s. It forces the body to burn fats instead of carbohydrates, and this leads to a build-up of molecules called ketone bodies in the blood, which are thought to be responsible for the diet’s anti-convulsant effect in read more

The effect of anti-depressants on seizures

Approximately 30% of people who have epilepsy also experience depression at some point in their lives, and this greatly impacts upon their quality of life. Certain anti-depressants have been linked to an increase in seizure frequency, and this has therefore led to an under-treatment of depression and anxiety disorders in these people. There is now evidence that anti-depressant drugs known as read more

Exploring the link between febrile seizures and epilepsy

As described in the previous article, the term ‘febrile seizures’ describes seizures that are triggered by a rise in temperature (e.g. a fever), and they affect approximately 5% of children between the ages of 6 months and six years. In most cases the child experiences a single, brief episode and recovers without any long-term health consequences; however a reported 1-2% read more

Gene therapy for epilepsy: promising results from an Epilesy Research UK-funded study

Neurons communicate with each other via chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters (NTs), and these can either be excitatory or inhibitory. An excitatory NT causes the communicating neuron to ‘fire’, whilst an inhibitory NT causes it to be inactive. The most common excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain are glutamate and GABA respectively, and a very fine balance between the read more

A newly-discovered mechanism for febrile seizures

Febrile seizures (FSs) (seizures that are triggered by high temperature (e.g. a fever)) usually occur in otherwise healthy children between the ages of six months and six years, and they are most commonly seen in toddlers. In most cases the child recovers rapidly without any detrimental effects; however approximately 1-2% go on to develop epilepsy (although this is usually outgrown read more

An exciting new avenue for epilepsy treatment

Neurons communicate with each other via chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters (NTs), which can either be excitatory or inhibitory. An excitatory NT causes the communicating neuron to fire an electrical signal, whilst an inhibitory one causes it to remain ‘silent’. The main excitatory and inhibitory NTs in the brain are called glutamate and GABA respectively, and a strict balance between the read more

An important mechanism for seizure development

The term epilepsy encompasses a group of complex disorders, whose biological mechanisms are still poorly understood. Approximately a third of people affected do not respond to existing anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) (a statistic that hasn’t changed in over forty years) and novel (more effective) treatments are widely sought. The identification of ‘new’ molecular pathways that are linked to epilepsy creates opportunities read more

Potential predictors of frontal lobe epilepsy surgery outcome

Epilepsy surgery (ES) is considered for a small proportion of people who do not respond to anti-epileptic drugs; however it carries significant risks. Moreover, seizure freedom is not guaranteed and some even find that their seizures worsen as a consequence. Information that can help predict ES outcome is extremely valuable to neurologists, to avoid exposing patients who have little chance read more

A promising new EEG technique

In order to make an accurate diagnosis of epilepsy and assign the most appropriate treatment, epileptologists must be able to detect epileptic activity in the brain. They also need to locate the region in which seizures originate (the seizure focus) and if/where they spread. In practice, a common test used (amongst others) is electroencephalography (EEG), in which electrical waves in the brain read more

Can we predict whether or not seizures will worsen after epilepsy surgery?

Approximately a third of people with epilepsy do not respond to anti-epileptic drugs (they are said to have refractory epilepsy), and a proportion are referred for epilepsy surgery (ES) to remove the seizure focus (the region of the brain in which the seizures originate). The procedure performed varies according to the type of epilepsy and if/how the seizures spread; however all read more

A promising new epilepsy surgery technique

Approximately a third of people with epilepsy do not respond to anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) and they are said to have refractory epilepsy (RE). A carefully considered proportion of these may be referred for surgery to remove the seizure focus, the area of the brain in which seizures originate. Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common form of epilepsy seen amongst those with RE, and standard TLE surgery involves read more

A potential new target for temporal lobe epilepsy treatment

Proteins are essential to the function of cells, and in fact the majority of our genes contain the information needed to make different proteins. The path from gene to protein is complex, however, and is tightly controlled within each cell. First the gentetic code must be transcribed from our DNA into a molecule called ribonucleic acid (RNA) (a process known as transcription), and this dictates read more

Can the damage to the brain caused by seizures be reduced?

Astrocytes are star-shaped cells found in the brain and spinal cord. They support many other types of cell, including neurons, ensuring they have the necessary nutrients and an optimal environment in which to function. Astrocytes can become activated (reactive) in response to any sort of brain injury, for example a trauma, tumour, infection or following an epileptic seizure. Epileptic seizures are caused read more

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