This month’s research news features discoveries by three researchers in the CURE Epilepsy community and their teams. The first study, by CURE Epilepsy advisor and former grantee Dr. Manisha Patel, discovered a potential role in epilepsy for mitochondrial superoxide, a substance found in the brain. The second study, featuring the work of CURE Epilepsy grantee Dr. Xiaoming Jin and colleagues, highlights that the development of post-traumatic epilepsy following a traumatic brain injury can be blocked by interfering with certain mechanisms of signaling between neurons in the brain. Finally, we share the work of CURE Epilepsy-supported researcher Dr. Jeanne Paz, who identified a specific molecule in a part of the brain called the thalamus that plays a key role in secondary effects of brain injury, such as sleep disruption, epileptic activity, and inflammation.
Also included in this month’s news is work demonstrating that cellular reprogramming can reduce epileptic seizures in a mouse model of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, and a study investigating the link between epilepsy and autism.
Summaries of these research discoveries can be found below.
Mechanisms of Epilepsy (Featuring the work of CURE Epilepsy advisor and former grantee Dr. Manisha Patel): New research has discovered a potential role in epilepsy for a substance found in the brain known as mitochondrial superoxide. This study utilized both a mouse model of severe epilepsy as well as cultured cells grown in an artificial environment, finding that increased mitochondrial superoxide in neural tissue lead to a catastrophic type of epilepsy. Learn more
Preventing Post-Traumatic Epilepsy (PTE) (Featuring the work of CURE Epilepsy grantee Dr. Xiaoming Jin): A recent study utilized a mouse model of PTE, a type of epilepsy that develops after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and found two proteins in the brain that are very important in the development of PTE. These proteins – known as RAGE and TLR4 – are involved in signaling pathways between neurons in the brain. Dr. Jin and his team found blocking these pathways decreased spontaneous seizures. They concluded that blocking these pathways early after TBI is a promising strategy for preventing PTE. Learn more
Preventing Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (Featuring the work of CURE Epilepsy-supported researcher Dr. Jeanne Paz): In a new study, Dr. Paz and her team helped address the lack of therapies for people who have sustained a brain injury. They identified a specific molecule in a part of the brain called the thalamus that plays a key role in secondary effects of brain injury, such as sleep disruption, epileptic activity, and inflammation. The scientists then showed that an antibody treatment could prevent the development of these negative outcomes following an injury. Learn more
Reprogramming Cells to Reduce Seizures: A new study has found that cellular reprogramming can reduce epileptic seizures in a mouse model of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. The study demonstrates that by reprogramming certain cells found in the brain into what’s known as ‘interneurons’ (i.e., inhibitory neurons that help keep brain excitation at bay), chronic seizure activity in the brain can be dampened. The investigators now hope that this offers a potential cell-based means of combatting seizures in drug-resistant epilepsy. Learn more
Treating Epilepsy in Individuals with Autism: Recent large-scale genetic studies revealed that variants in a sodium channel, called voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.2, is a leading cause of autism. Now, a new study has shown that a deficiency in the sodium channel Nav1.2 also leads to a cascade of effects that includes the shutting down of another type of channel called a potassium channel, making neurons hyperexcitable and causing seizures. The researchers suggest that developing medicines to open the potassium channels would help control seizures in these patients. Learn more