Brain study uncovers vital clue in bid to beat epilepsy

September 3, 2013

People with epilepsy could be helped by new research into the way a key molecule controls brain activity during a seizure.

Researchers have identified the role played by of a protein – called BDNF – and say the discovery could lead to new drugs that calm the symptoms of epileptic seizures.

Scientists analysed the way cells communicate when the brain is most active – such as in – when electrical signalling by the brain's neurons is increased.

They found that the BDNF molecule – which is known to be released in the brain during seizures – blocks a specific process known as activity-dependent bulk endocytosis (ABDE).

By blocking this process during an epileptic seizure, BDNF increases the release of neurotransmitters and causes heightened electrical activity in the brain.

Since ADBE is only triggered during high , drugs designed to target this process could have fewer side effects for normal day to day brain function, researchers say.

Experts say that not all respond to current drug treatments and the finding could lead to the development of .

The team, however, offered a word of caution. Since ABDE is also implicated in a range of brain functions, such as creating , more research is needed to establish what the effects of manipulating this molecule might be on these key processes.

The study, led by the University of Edinburgh, is published in the journal Nature Communications. The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council.

Dr Mike Cousin, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Integrative Physiology, who led the research, said: "Around one third of people with epilepsy do not respond to the treatments we currently have available. By studying the way behave during seizures, we have been able to uncover an exciting new research avenue for research into anti-epileptic therapies."

Researchers will now focus on identifying specific genes that control this brain process to determine whether they hold the key to new drug treatments.

Explore further: Adenosine therapy reduces seizures and progression of epilepsy

Related Stories

Adenosine therapy reduces seizures and progression of epilepsy

July 25, 2013
Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that present in many different ways. In some cases epileptic patients exhibit a progressive increase in both frequency and severity of seizures. Epigenetic changes such as DNA ...

Surprising results from study of non-epileptic seizures

December 2, 2012
A Loyola University Medical Center neurologist is reporting surprising results of a study of patients who experience both epileptic and non-epileptic seizures.

New imaging techniques used to help patients suffering from epilepsy

May 23, 2013
New techniques in imaging of brain activity developed by Jean Gotman, from McGill University's Montreal Neurological Institute, and his colleagues lead to improved treatment of patients suffering from epilepsy. The combination ...

Neuroscientists create fiber-optic method of arresting epileptic seizures

January 24, 2013
UC Irvine neuroscientists have developed a way to stop epileptic seizures with fiber-optic light signals, heralding a novel opportunity to treat the most severe manifestations of the brain disorder.

Mild brain cooling after head injury prevents epileptic seizures in lab study

December 21, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Mild cooling of the brain after a head injury prevents the later development of epileptic seizures, according to an animal study reported this month in the  Annals of Neurology.

Promising new finding for therapies to treat persistent seizures in epileptic patients

January 16, 2013
In a promising finding for epileptic patients suffering from persistent seizures known as status epilepticus, researchers reported today that new medication could help halt these devastating seizures. To do so, it would have ...

Recommended for you

Scientists capture first image of major brain receptor in action

July 24, 2017
Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have captured the first three-dimensional snapshots of the AMPA-subtype glutamate receptor in action. The receptor, which regulates most electrical signaling in the brain, ...

Research identifies new brain death pathway in Alzheimer's disease

July 24, 2017
Alzheimer's disease tragically ravages the brains, memories and ultimately, personalities of its victims. Now affecting 5 million Americans, Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., and a cure ...

Illuminating neural pathways in the living brain

July 24, 2017
Using light alone, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried are now able to reveal pairs or chains of functionally connected neurons under the microscope. The new optogenetic method, named Optobow, ...

Study suggests link between autism, pain sensitivity

July 24, 2017
New research by a UT Dallas neuroscientist has established a link between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and pain sensitivity. 

Eye test could help diagnose autism

July 24, 2017
A new study out in European Journal of Neuroscience could herald a new tool that helps physicians identify a sub-group of people with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The test, which consists of measuring rapid eye movements, ...

The neural codes for body movements

July 21, 2017
A small patch of neurons in the brain can encode the movements of many body parts, according to researchers in the laboratory of Caltech's Richard Andersen, James G. Boswell Professor of Neuroscience, Tianqiao and Chrissy ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.