Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research sheds new light on epilepsy

01.12.2009
Pioneering research using human brain tissue removed from people suffering from epilepsy has opened the door to new treatments for the disease.

Scientists at Newcastle University have for the first time been able to record spontaneous epileptic activity in brain tissue that has been removed from patients undergoing neurosurgery.

Led by Newcastle University's Dr Mark Cunningham, the research has revealed that a particular type of brain wave pattern associated with epilepsy is caused by electrical connections between nerve cells in the brain – rather than chemical ones. This means the traditional drugs are useless to them.

Published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Dr Cunningham said the findings marked a huge step forward in our understanding of a disease which affects an estimated 45 million people worldwide.

"Until now we have only been able to mimic epilepsy using experimental animal models but this can never give you a true picture of what is actually going on inside the human brain in epilepsy," explained Dr Cunningham who is based in Newcastle University's Institute of Neuroscience.

"Our findings help us to understand what is going wrong and are an important step towards finding new epilepsy treatments in the future."

The study

The first line of treatment for patients with epilepsy uses anti-epileptic drugs to control seizures.

However, in almost 30 per cent of patients the drugs don't work. In this case, one course of action available to them is a neurosurgical procedure in which the brain tissue responsible for the epilepsy is removed from the patient.

Working in collaboration with the Epilepsy Surgery Group at Newcastle General Hospital and IBM Watson Research Centre in New York, the team – with permission from the patients – have taken this epileptic tissue into the lab and 'fooled' it into thinking it is still part of the living brain.

They have then been able to record electrical signals from individual neurons and also networks of neurons.

Comparing this with normal brain tissue activity they managed to record an underlying 'noise' – a particular type of brain wave, or oscillation, which occurs in the intact epileptic human brain and which scientists believe is a precursor to an epileptic seizure.

Using a combination of experimental techniques, the team have shown that rather than being controlled by chemical signals which most conventional anti-epileptic drugs target, this oscillation relies on direct electrical connections.

"This may explain why the traditional drugs that target chemical connections don't work for patients with this kind of epilepsy," explains Dr Cunningham, who conducted the research with his colleague Professor Miles Whittington.

"These findings have massively increased our understanding of epilepsy and offer real hope in terms of finding new ways of tackling the disease.

"The next step is to understand what it is that triggers the transition between the underlying epileptic state of the brain cells and the fast oscillations that are responsible for causing a seizure."

Dr. Mark Cunningham | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ncl.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>