Breakthrough for epilepsy seizure treatment following brain cell study

A recent research project conducted by scientists at the University of Edinburgh has highlighted the means by which brain cells communicate with each other when minds are at their peak of activity.

The VAMP4 molecule was identified as being integral for neurons to send messages to each other while the brain is active, and the team looked into whether or not the same molecule could help act as an ‘off’ switch for brain activity, so the intensity of epileptic seizures could be reduced.

As part of the study, the researchers focused on a specific brain process commonly referred to as ABDE, which enables neurons to communicate while the brain is at its most active.

They found that VAMP4 plays a crucial role in the process but is not necessary for other, more routine activity.

Therefore, while more research is needed, the team at Edinburgh is hopeful that new treatments to ease seizures, by targeting VAMP4, would have less of an impact on typical, average brain function among patients than existing treatments for epilepsy.

Professor Mike Cousin from the University of Edinburgh’s Muir Maxwell epilepsy centre, said: “This research is still in very early stages but it gives us a new avenue to explore for new epilepsy treatments, which are urgently needed.

“Around one-third of children with epilepsy cannot control their seizures with treatments that are currently available.”

Over 600,000 people in the UK suffer from epilepsy and the seizures associated with the condition, and it is hoped that the study will help change the way that the condition is managed.

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