Rutgers research tackles childhood epilepsy

Jun 10, 2009

Rutgers researchers have discovered a potential new way to treat childhood epilepsy using a widely available therapeutic drug.

Rutgers neuroscientist Gabriella D'Arcangelo and her colleagues have published their research findings in the journal Disease Models and Mechanisms (in press) and the paper has just appeared online.

In their quest for new therapeutic approaches, the researchers are investigating the molecular basis of the disease. The article describes the first use of a mouse model of cortical dysplasia, a malformation of the brain that is most often the cause of childhood epilepsy. Introducing the drug rapamycin, originally used to prevent rejection in organ transplants, suppressed epileptic seizures in the mice.

Epilepsy is the third most common neurological disorder in the United States after Alzheimer's disease and stroke. It currently affects more than 326,000 children under age 15. More than 90,000 of them have severe seizures that cannot be adequately treated. The children often go on to develop cognitive problems due to recurrent and uncontrolled seizures and the combined effects of heavy medication. They may also suffer consequences from having parts of their brains removed during surgery.

According to the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), approximately 45 percent of the pediatric surgery cases (patients under age 18) are due to cortical dysplasia. A staggering 75 percent of surgery patients under age 2 have the condition.

"The surgery is not without risks, and while it may help control the seizures, it does not work in all cases," said D'Arcangelo, an associate professor in the Department of and Neuroscience at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. "Clearly there is a pressing need to come up with new strategies for treatment."

D'Arcangelo's mutant mice lack a gene (Pten) that suppresses cell growth in some neurons, resulting in these mutants displaying molecular, cellular and physiological traits of cortical dysplasia. The researchers treated the mice with rapamycin. It had already shown promise in a different mouse model for treating tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a subtype of cortical dysplasia.

"We demonstrated that rapamycin is a novel and effective anti-epileptic agent that suppresses seizures in our mice, as well as in the TSC model, and this has raised some hope for the future," said D'Arcangelo. "This drug is being tested on human patients of tuberous sclerosis in a multicenter study involving six TSC clinics throughout the United States. I hope it will soon be tested for all cortical dysplasia patients."

Source: Rutgers University (news : web)

Explore further: Saudi Arabia reports three more deaths from MERS virus

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Drug reverses mental retardation caused by genetic disorder

Jun 22, 2008

[B]UCLA mouse study offers hope for correcting how autism disrupts brain[/B] UCLA researchers discovered that an FDA-approved drug reverses the brain dysfunction inflicted by a genetic disease called tuberous sclerosis com ...

Early treatment stops epilepsy in its tracks

Dec 13, 2007

Yale School of Medicine researchers have shown for the first time that it is possible to suppress the development of epilepsy in genetically predisposed animals—which could open the door to treating epilepsy ...

Surgery safe for babies and toddlers suffering from seizures

Mar 23, 2009

A new study published in Epilepsia reveals surgery for babies and toddlers suffering from epilepsy is relatively safe and is effective in controlling seizures. The findings also show that early surgery may have a positive impact ...

Recommended for you

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

Apr 20, 2014

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Apr 20, 2014

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

Apr 19, 2014

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Scientists make critical end-stage liver discovery

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers in the University of Arizona's College of Pharmacy has discovered a molecular pathway that could be key to creating new therapeutics that would slow or even reverse ...

Atom probe assisted dating of oldest piece of earth

(Phys.org) —It's a scientific axiom: big claims require extra-solid evidence. So there were skeptics in 2001 when University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscience professor John Valley dated an ancient crystal ...