Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

More than fish bait: Worms unlock secrets to new epilepsy treatments

10.12.2009
Research in the journal Genetics identifies potential drug development target for epilepsy seizures

A team of scientists from The University of Alabama used worms to reel in information that they hope will lead to a greater understanding of cellular mechanisms that may be exploited to treat epilepsy.

In a new research report in the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org), the researchers explain how the transparent roundworm, C. elegans, helped them identify key "molecular switches" that control the transport of a molecule (gamma-aminobutyric acid or "GABA") that if manipulated within our cells, might prevent the onset of seizures.

"It is our hope that this work serves to accelerate the path toward the identification of genetic factors that cause a susceptibility to epilepsy," said Guy A. Caldwell, Ph.D., co-author of the study from the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. "Simultaneously, this work has the potential to uncover new avenues toward therapeutic development to control or prevent seizures in the future."

To make this finding, the researchers conducted experiments involving drugs known to affect neuronal activity in combination with DNA mutations in genetic factors shared between C. elegans and humans. Changes in the worm's neuronal activity led to repetitive convulsions believed to be similar to those experienced in epilepsy. These convulsions were observed under a microscope, and videos of those events were used to evaluate the severity of the neuronal changes. At the same time, the researchers used a green fluorescent protein to "tag" or "label" the cellular locale and delivery of GABA in neurons. This tagging allowed the researchers to see the specific genetic factors that led to abnormal movement of GABA in neurons as they coincided with worm seizures and to make appropriate comparisons with worms from the control group.

"Although much more work must be done before new drugs can be developed for people, these findings could offer hope to people with this devastating and frustrating condition," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of GENETICS. "It may be hard to believe, but the cellular processes that occur in these worms are likely to be similar to those in humans. This work has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of what causes seizures in people, and could point the way to a remedy."

Since 1916, GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org) has covered high quality, original research on a range of topics bearing on inheritance, including population and evolutionary genetics, complex traits, developmental and behavioral genetics, cellular genetics, gene expression, genome integrity and transmission, and genome and systems biology. GENETICS, the peer-reviewed, peer-edited journal of the Genetics Society of America is one of the world's most cited journals in genetics and heredity.

Article Details: Cody J. Locke, Bwarenaba B. Kautu, Kalen P. Berry, S. Kyle Lee, Kim A. Caldwell, and Guy A. Caldwell. (2009). Pharmacogenetic Analysis Reveals a Post-Developmental Role for Rac GTPases in Caenorhabditis elegans GABAergic Neurotransmission. GENETICS. doi: 10.1534/genetics.109.106880

Tracey DePellegrin Connelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cmu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ambush in a petri dish
24.11.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>