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 Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified
20.02.2017 | Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

nachricht Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain
20.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>