Hope for new treatment of severe epilepsy

April 17, 2018, Lund University

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden believe they have found a method that in the future could help people suffering from epilepsy so severe that all current treatment is ineffective. "In mice studies, we succeeded in reducing seizure activity by intervening in an area of the brain that is not the focus of the epileptic seizures, but is directly connected to it through a network of neurons. If we get the same result in further, long-term studies, it could pave the way for treatment of severe epilepsy," says Mérab Kokaia, professor and director of the Epilepsy Centre at Lund University.

In the study, published in the research journal Scientific Reports, researchers succeeded in reducing epileptic activity in the hippocampus, an area of the brain which is important for memory and learning, among other things. In the most severe cases, this is exactly the part of the brain where usually start.

The researchers used a method known as chemogenetics, which enables them to reduce activity in the specific areas and nerve cells involved in an epileptic seizure, whereas other parts and cells in the body remain unaffected. This is in contrast to current drugs that affect more or less all parts and cells of the body, potentially leading to side effects.

"Very few similar studies have been carried out previously, and this is the first study in which we succeeded in reducing the in one area of the brain by using chemogenetics to affect another area, not the seizure focus. This opens up the possibility of treating in areas of the that cannot be surgically removed or treated directly," explains Mérab Kokaia.

In Sweden, around 60,000 people currently suffer from epilepsy, of whom around a third have such a severe form of the disease that current treatment with existing drugs does not work. "We hope that, in the future, this knowledge will help people with this severe form of epilepsy, but also that it will benefit other patients with the disease," concludes Mérab Kokaia.

Explore further: New method increases life span of donated brain tissue

More information: Fredrik Berglind et al. Dynamic interaction of local and transhemispheric networks is necessary for progressive intensification of hippocampal seizures, Scientific Reports (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-23659-x

Related Stories

New method increases life span of donated brain tissue

March 9, 2018
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed a method that enables them to use donated brain tissue from people with epilepsy for 48 hours. Previously, the researchers only had 12 hours to test new treatments before ...

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 ...

Simple blood test could reveal epilepsy risk

February 12, 2018
A finger-prick blood test to diagnose epilepsy could be available within five years, according to scientists who are using tell-tale molecules called biomarkers to overcome current diagnostic problems and guide treatment.

Team develops method to identify seizure-causing regions in the brain

January 11, 2018
Epilepsy—a condition that affects an estimated 65 million people worldwide—can be a difficult condition to treat. A team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Mayo Clinic have developed a method with the ...

New findings about stem cells in the brain of patients with epilepsy

December 15, 2016
Neural stem cells have been found in epileptic brain tissue—outside the regions of the brain where they normally reside. In a group of patients who underwent surgery for epilepsy, over half had stem cells where healthy ...

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.

Recommended for you

Overlooked signal in MRI scans reflects amount, kind of brain cells

September 24, 2018
An MRI scan often generates an ocean of data, most of which is never used. When overlooked data is analyzed using a new technique developed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, they surprisingly reveal ...

Even mild physical activity immediately improves memory function, study finds

September 24, 2018
People who include a little yoga or tai chi in their day may be more likely to remember where they put their keys. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and Japan's University of Tsukuba found that even very ...

Thousands of unknown DNA changes in the developing brain revealed by machine learning

September 24, 2018
Unlike most cells in the rest of our body, the DNA (the genome) in each of our brain cells is not the same: it varies from cell to cell, caused by somatic changes. This could explain many mysteries—from the cause of Alzheimer's ...

Implant helps paralysed man walk again

September 24, 2018
Five years after he was paralysed in a snowmobile accident, a man in the US has learned to walk again aided by an electrical implant, in a potential breakthrough for spinal injury sufferers.

Common painkiller not effective for chronic pain after traumatic nerve injury

September 24, 2018
A new study out today in the Journal of Neurology finds that pregabalin is not effective in controlling the chronic pain that sometimes develops following traumatic nerve injury. The results of the international study, which ...

Study of protein 'trafficker' provides insight into autism and other brain disorders

September 22, 2018
In the brain, as in business, connections are everything. To maintain cellular associates, the outer surface of a neuron, its membrane, must express particular proteins—proverbial hands that reach out and greet nearby cells. ...

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.