Researchers at Emory University have identified a specific mutation in a sodium channel gene (SCN1A) that is associated with epilepsy syndrome in a family. The findings were presented at the American Academy of Neurology in San Francisco on Tuesday, April 27th . The finding adds to a growing body of information about links between genetic mutations and epilepsy; more than two dozen genes implicated in the disease have been discovered to date, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.
"The premise of this study was to enroll families with neurological diseases in which the genetic cause is unknown," says Salina Waddy, MD, associate and post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine. "Identifying this novel mutation in a sodium channel gene (SCN1A) on Chromosome 2, which is associated with epilepsy will, in the end, help us learn how to better treat patients and their families who have a type of familial epilepsy called generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (GEFS+)."
Six Caucasian family members who all had GEFS+ were enrolled in the Emory study. GEFS+ is described as a condition where unusual bursts of energy discharge across the entire brain simultaneously, resulting in a seizure that is sometimes associated with high fevers. In most people who have febrile seizures, the seizures go away before the age of 6. In these patients, their febrile seizures occasionally persist beyond age 6, hence the "plus" in the GEFS+ name.
Janet Christenbury | EurekAlert!
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