Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study points to new gene therapy tool in preventing epileptic seizures

25.07.2003


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 UNC’s 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.


In the new research, McCown and his Gene Therapy Center colleagues Rebecca Haberman, a post-doctoral fellow, and Dr. R. Jude Samulski, center director and professor of pharmacology, used a novel strategy to make laboratory rats less sensitive to experimentally induced focal seizures.

The researchers used an altered adeno-associated virus, or AAV, to deliver into the animals’ brain cells a coded sequence for the production of galanin, a neuroactive peptide known to suppress seizure activity.

In earlier studies, McCown and his team learned there would be no attenuation of seizure activity if galanin was produced within neurons and wasn’t secreted from the cells. In addition, brain cells would die following induced seizures. Moreover, these cells were in a brain area intimately involved in temporal lobe epilepsy, McCown said.

In the new research, the cargo delivered via AAV included coded instructions for galanin and a secretory sequence that caused the galanin to be non-specifically secreted from the cell. In one experiment, sensitivity to focal seizure was reduced significantly. In another model seizure experiment, the AAV "construct" was delivered to only one side of the brain. Cell death after seizure induction occurred only in the untreated area.

"The treated side looked normal," McCown said. "This suggests that we can secrete an active peptide in a brain structure that’s closely tied to temporal lobe seizures."

Gene expression following delivery the AAV construct can be turned off by the antibiotic doxycycline, which McCown said was an important feature of the research. "Whether it be via an antimicrobial compound or an analog, this is an absolutely crucial component to human gene therapy. You have to be able to turn gene expression off."

In terms of focal seizure control through gene therapy, the new study brings researchers a step closer to resolving a major issue: how to influence only a specific area of the brain. "In the case of seizures, the area is much more restrictive than that of a single-gene disorder where you need to hit most of the cells in a large proportion of the brain," McCown said.

Further laboratory studies with this new gene therapy platform may prove promising for treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy patients who are slated for surgery, McCown said. "You could put in this AAV vector prior to surgery and then see what effect it has on the tissue to be removed. If it controls seizure activity, you might have to reconsider resection."

Contact: Mc Cown at +1-919-966-3081, thomas_mccown@med.unc.edu

Leslie Lang | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.med.unc.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>