New study looks at role of the BDNF protein in onset of epilepsy

Posted Nov 22 2010 in Brain science; genetics

Researchers at a US university are set to launch a study which will analyse the role the BDNF protein has in the development of epilepsy.

Staff at Georgetown University Medical Centre will analyse whether BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is involved in cell survival and maintenance, can regulate the development of dendritic spines.

Changes in the number of dendritic spines, small protrusions along neuronal branches which help transmit brain signals, are associated with a range of conditions including epilepsy and Alzheimer's.

Lauren Orefice, a PhD candidate at the institution's interdepartmental program in neuroscience, claimed the BDNF protein could be a key element in the treatment of epilepsy.

She said: "These studies will provide significant insight into processes fundamental for brain development and synaptic plasticity, as well as offer insight into the causes of some neurological diseases."

Ms Orefice is due to present an extract from her research at the 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego later this month. 

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