As early as 3 months of age, infants with a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome start having convulsive seizures, during which their arms and legs jerk repeatedly. As they become toddlers, another type of seizure begins to appear. These seizures do not cause obvious convulsions, but disrupt consciousness and can occur more than 50 times every single day. A challenge to detect and difficult to treat, these non-convulsive seizures often go unnoticed by parents and physicians.
A recent study, published in the journal Cell Reports, characterizes these silent seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome and identifies the brain area that could be targeted to stop them.
“We were able to pinpoint the exact spot in the brain that causes the seizures,” said Jeanne Paz, PhD, the senior author of the study, who is an assistant investigator at the Gladstone Institutes. “This discovery allowed us to develop two new strategies to prevent these non-convulsive seizures in mice simulating Dravet syndrome.”