The link between CLOCK and epilepsy
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 is one of a number of proteins that helps our body clock to function ‘normally’.
Image credit: By NoNameGYassineMrabetTalk fixed by Addicted04 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A recent US study showed that some children with epilepsy lack CLOCK, and that, in these children, this may be the cause of excessive ‘excitation’ in neurons where their seizures begin. Closer examination in experimental models revealed that these neurons don’t become more excited than usual, they just don’t receive the normal inhibitory signalling that should prevent from ‘firing’ uncontrollably. You can read about the study here.
Researchers across the world are dedicated to helping people with drug-resistant epilepsy find seizure control. To do this, they need to understand the (numerous) complex mechanisms that underlie epilepsy, which takes a lot of time and a lot of money. These findings, which implicate a specific molecular pathway in seizure development, are a potential breakthrough that could lead to the development of a completely new type of epilepsy treatment.
Show your support for epilepsy research here.