Researchers identify treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy

June 29, 2016 by Louise Loughran, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)

New research into the treatment of epilepsy, led by scientists at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), has identified a new approach to drug therapy to prevent seizures in patients who have a drug-resistant form of epilepsy. The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, has identified a way to target an underlying cause of epilepsy, rather than masking the symptoms, with the potential to prevent seizures returning to previous levels even when the patient stops taking the medication. This is the first time such a disease-modifying effect has been found in epilepsy research.

The study looked at the brains of patients with temporal lobe , one of the most common and -resistant forms of epilepsy.

Professor David Henshall, from the RCSI Department of Physiology and Medical Physics and senior author on the study commented: "Our study has shown promising results for the development of new treatments for those who have a drug-resistant form of the condition. At present, none of the treatments available for epilepsy have disease-modifying effects so if a patient stops taking the drug, their seizures will return. Our research paves the way for future drugs for epilepsy that will tackle the underlying causes, reducing seizures and ultimately improving quality of life for people with the condition."

Epilepsy affects more than 37,000 people in Ireland and 50 million people globally.

The researchers focused on a protein present on the surface of certain non-excitable brain cells called microglia that function as the "immune cells" of the brain, reacting to tissue injury and coordinating inflammatory and repair responses. They found that levels of this protein receptor were increased in the brains of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. The researchers found that injecting a drug that blocked the protein receptor resulted in a reduction in epileptic seizures. Critically, numbers of epileptic did not return to baseline when they stopped giving the drug. A potential explanation for this effect was that numbers of activated microglia were reduced after the drug treatment.

Explore further: Researchers discover why stress leads to increased seizures in epilepsy patients

More information: Rescue of the Functional Alterations of Motor Cortical Circuits in Arginase Deficiency by Neonatal Gene Therapy. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0897-16.2016

Related Stories

Researchers discover why stress leads to increased seizures in epilepsy patients

June 14, 2016
For epilepsy patients, stress and anxiety can exacerbate their condition; increasing the frequency and severity of seizures. Until now, it was unclear why this happened and what could be done to prevent it.

Genes influence sleep/wake timing of seizures in people with epilepsy

March 7, 2016
New research from the Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project shows that genetics plays a role in sleep/wake timing of seizures. Researchers studied 1,395 individuals with epilepsy in families containing multiple people with epilepsy ...

Patient should talk to doctor about interest in discontinuing anti-epileptic medication

April 8, 2016
Dear Mayo Clinic: I was diagnosed with epilepsy three years ago at the age of 29. I've been on medication since then and haven't had another seizure. Is it true that, for some people, epilepsy is not necessarily a lifelong ...

New molecule prevents recurrent temporal lobe epilepsy in mice

October 15, 2015
Working in mice, researchers at Duke University have discovered a potential new class of drugs that may prevent the development of temporal lobe epilepsy, one of the most common and devastating forms of epilepsy.

A step towards gene therapy against intractable epilepsy

December 3, 2015
By delivering genes for a certain signal substance and its receptor into the brain of test animals with chronic epilepsy, a research group at Lund University in Sweden and colleagues at University of Copenhagen Denmark has ...

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 ...

Recommended for you

A peek into the interplay between sleep and wakefulness

July 20, 2018
Sleep is an autonomic process and is not always under our direct, voluntary control. Awake or asleep, we are basically under the regulation of two biological processes: sleep homeostasis, commonly known as 'sleep pressure', ...

Paralyzed mice with spinal cord injury made to walk again

July 19, 2018
Most people with spinal cord injury are paralyzed from the injury site down, even when the cord isn't completely severed. Why don't the spared portions of the spinal cord keep working? Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital ...

Neural inflammation plays critical role in stress-induced depression

July 19, 2018
A group of Japanese researchers has discovered that neural inflammation caused by the innate immune system plays an unexpectedly important role in stress-induced depression. This insight could potentially lead to the development ...

Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production and survival of myelin-forming cells

July 19, 2018
The nervous system is a complex organ that relies on a variety of biological players to ensure daily function of the human body. Myelin—a membrane produced by specialized glial cells—plays a critical role in protecting ...

Understanding the neuroscience of binge drinking

July 19, 2018
A new study from researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center found that binge drinking impairs working memory in the adolescent brain. The study, in mice, explains why teenagers who binge drink are 15 times more ...

Neurons can carry more than one signal at a time

July 18, 2018
Back in the early days of telecommunications, engineers devised a clever way to send multiple telephone calls through a single wire at the same time. Called time-division multiplexing, this technique rapidly switches between ...

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.