Fewer absorbent ion channels / new morbidity mechanism
To date epilepsy research has mainly concentrated on the transmission of the nerve cell signals to what are known as the synapses. However, recent observations by medical researchers from the US, France and the University of Bonn support the idea that in falling sickness the signal processing in the nerve cells (neurons) is altered: normally specific ion channels absorb the neuronal activity. In rats suffering from epilepsy, however, this signals brake seems impaired: they have far fewer functioning ion channels than healthy rats. The results are published in the latest edition of the prestigious scientific journal Science (23rd July, vol. 305, no. 5683). They offer hope of new therapeutic possibilities.
Epilepsy is a common disease: in Germany alone there are 600,000 people whose nerve cells in the brain occasionally switch from healthy chaos to common mode. The result of the uncontrolled mass discharge of neurons is loss of consciousness and spastic convulsions of the muscles, during which those affected can seriously injure themselves. Yet how this synchronised paroxysmic activity develops at the level of nerve cells is still largely a mystery.
Professor Heinz Beck | EurekAlert!
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