Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists At Penn Track Epileptic Seizures

Date:
April 27, 2001
Source:
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center
Summary:
Scientists studying epilepsy at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center are finding a pattern of human brain activity that indicates the conditions triggering seizures can take hours to develop.

Scientists studying epilepsy at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center are finding a pattern of human brain activity that indicates the conditions triggering seizures can take hours to develop.

The work points toward a method to short-circuit epileptic seizures and convulsions before they strike, through the use of implantable brain devices and medications, according to Brian Litt, MD, author of the study. It appears April 26 in the journal Neuron.

"This study is part of a large collaborative effort to control symptoms of a condition that dominates the lives of otherwise healthy individuals by its dramatic unpredictability," Litt said. “The potential to use our findings to help people with poorly controlled seizures world-wide is enormous.”

About 50 million people throughout the world suffer from epilepsy. Almost 25 percent have seizures that are not controlled by any available therapy.

Although epilepsy is the most common neurologic disease after stroke, its cause cannot be identified in a large percentage of cases. Recently, scientists looking for changes in the brain that predict seizures have had some success using mathematically-based chaos theory. But those studies have generally been limited in scope -- they concentrate on a period of minutes prior to seizures -- and are further limited by the difficulty of applying an abstract theory to what actually happens inside the brain.

Litt and his colleagues, on the other hand, relied on the traditional method of measuring brain activity through EEG (electroencephalograpy) readings for five epilepsy patients who were being evaluated for surgery and had therefore stopped taking anti-seizure medication. The EEG readings tracked the patients for periods ranging from four to 14 days.

Using electrodes implanted in both sides of the brain, the scientists examined "a continuous stream of data for reproducible patterns associated with seizures, and found a chain of events that predicted that seizures were going to occur," Litt said.

The researchers discovered cycles of abnormal brain activity -- epileptic discharges -- lasting 15 to 30 minutes. The discharges became more frequent over a period of hours as they led to brief, asymptomatic seizures at specific points in the brain.

Those smaller seizures triggered a steady increase in activity that spread across the brain and culminated in clinical seizures. Litt likened this cascade of events to a match striking over and over, lighting and re-lighting a fuse in the affected part of the brain. The fuse goes out and re-ignites more and more frequently, until finally it ignites the energy that leads to clinical seizures. In some of the study patients, the process lasted up to seven hours.

"This information provides a real opportunity to stop abnormal activity in epileptic brain regions before seizures develop," Litt said. Although substantial work remains before the study findings can be put to clinical use, he believes scientists may eventually be able to implant devices in the brain that will abort seizures by reacting to, and diffusing, the cycle of increasing abnormal brain activity.

Litt collaborated in the study with Rosanna Esteller; Javier Echauz, PhD; Maryann D'Alessandro; Rachel Shor; and George Vachtsevanos, PhD, all of the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with Thomas Henry, MD; Page Pennell, MD; Roy Bakay, MD, and Charles Epstein, MD, of Emory University. Marc Dichter, MD, PhD, of Penn also collaborated in the study.

Along with Vachtsevanos, Echauz and Esteller, Litt is co-founder of IntelliMedix, a company devoted to this research. The study was funded by IntelliMedix (in which Drs. Litt, Vachtsevanos, Echauz and Esteller have a financial interest), the Epilepsy Foundation, the Whittaker Foundation, the American Epilepsy Society, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. "Scientists At Penn Track Epileptic Seizures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 April 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010427071739.htm>.
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. (2001, April 27). Scientists At Penn Track Epileptic Seizures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010427071739.htm
University Of Pennsylvania Medical Center. "Scientists At Penn Track Epileptic Seizures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/04/010427071739.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Despite Health Questions, E-Cigs Are Beneficial: Study

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Citing 81 previous studies, new research out of London suggests the benefits of smoking e-cigarettes instead of regular ones outweighs the risks. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins