Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Drug Prevents Seizure Progression In Model Of Epilepsy

Date:
May 5, 2009
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
Researchers have identified a new anticonvulsant compound that has the potential to stop the development of epilepsy. The research discovery builds on previous work identifying a specific molecular target whose increased activity is associated with seizure disorders, a potassium channel known as the BK channel.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have identified a new anticonvulsant compound that has the potential to stop the development of epilepsy. The findings are published in the current issue of the journal Epilepsia.

The research discovery builds on previous work identifying a specific molecular target whose increased activity is associated with seizure disorders, a potassium channel known as the BK channel.

"We have found a new anticonvulsant compound that eliminates seizures in a model of epilepsy," said Alison Barth, associate professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon's Mellon College of Science. "The drug works by inhibiting ion channels whose role in epilepsy was only recently discovered. Understanding how these channels work in seizure disorders, and being able to target them with a simple treatment, represents a significant advance in our ability to understand and treat epilepsy."

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by abnormal electrical activity in the brain that leads to recurring seizures. A person who has a first seizure is statistically much more likely to have a second, and with each subsequent seizure, the chance of having another seizure grows. A person is often diagnosed with epilepsy after having two or more seizures that have no other apparent cause.

In prior studies, Barth and colleagues were the first to link BK channels, ion channels that allow electrically charged potassium ions to move out of cells, to sporadic epilepsy. Previous studies had shown that these channels were genetically altered in a few rare individuals who suffer from the disease, but Barth and colleagues demonstrated that seizures themselves could lead to the same alterations in BK channel function.

Potassium ions move through the channels, starting and stopping the electrical impulses that allow neurons to communicate with one another. The Carnegie Mellon researchers found that after a first seizure, BK channel function was markedly enhanced. As a result, the neurons became overly excitable and were firing with more speed, intensity and spontaneity, leading Barth to believe that the abnormal increased activity of the channels might play a role in causing subsequent seizures and the emergence of epilepsy.

In the current study, Barth tested this theory by blocking the ion channels using a BK-channel antagonist called paxilline. Using an experimental model for epilepsy, Barth asked whether paxilline could reduce or prevent experimentally induced seizures, as it could normalize aberrant brain activity induced by previous seizures. Remarkably, Barth and colleagues Jesse Sheehan and Brett Benedetti discovered that the compound was effective at completely blocking subsequent seizures.

"The drug is orally available, and works in the low nanomolar range," said Barth, noting that these characteristics, which mean the drug is effective in low concentrations and can be taken as a pill, make it an especially promising compound for treatment in epilepsy patients. While most anticonvulsants currently used to treat epilepsy work to directly inhibit the activity of neurotransmitters that causes seizures, few compounds interact with specific ion channels, especially potassium channels. The researchers believe that targeting the BK channels and the abnormal brain activity that they induce might one day be used as a way to prevent the progression of seizure disorders over time, thus attacking the root cause of epilepsy.

According to Barth, the next steps will be to further investigate paxilline to see whether it is an effective anticonvulsant treatment for multiple types of seizures. The investigators continue to look at how BK channels are regulated by seizures to better understand the development of epilepsy.

Co-authors of the study include Sheehan and Benedetti, doctoral students in the Department of Biological Sciences and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition at Carnegie Mellon. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Milken Family Foundation for Translational Research and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "Drug Prevents Seizure Progression In Model Of Epilepsy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090504122155.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2009, May 5). Drug Prevents Seizure Progression In Model Of Epilepsy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090504122155.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "Drug Prevents Seizure Progression In Model Of Epilepsy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090504122155.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
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