A new study by gene therapy scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may lead to an effective long-term treatment for preventing seizures associated with a common form of epilepsy. The study appears this week in the Internet edition of the journal Nature Medicine and will appear in the Aug. 1 print edition of the journal. The research provides an important foundation for the development of new gene therapies to treat focal seizure disorders, the authors said.
As the name indicates, focal (or partial) seizures involve an electrical storm affecting only a part of the brain. Such seizures may remain localized or spread to other parts of the cerebral cortex. The temporal lobes, one on each side of the head just above the ears, are the brain sites of one of the most common forms of epilepsy involving focal seizures.
"Epilepsy afflicts approximately 1 percent of the U.S. population. A large proportion of epileptic adults have temporal lobe epilepsy, which is often very difficult to treat, and for about 30 percent of those individuals the only treatment option is surgery," said study co-author Dr. Thomas J. McCown, associate professor of psychiatry in UNCs School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Gene Therapy Center. That option is surgical resection, or removal of abnormal brain tissue at the site linked to the seizures. However, despite resection, only 50 percent to 60 percent of temporal lobe epilepsy patients improve following the surgery.
Leslie Lang | EurekAlert!
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
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For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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