Researchers lock on cause of severe childhood epilepsy

March 17th, 2009 - 3:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 17 (IANS) Scientists used to think that severe epileptic atacks in children started in the surface of the brain, but a new study has found it starts in the hippocampus, the memory-forming part of the brain.
The study - based on a mouse model of severe epilepsy - may potentially pave the way for improved treatments of childhood epilepsy, which affects more than two percent of children worldwide.

The team of Joseph Gleeson, director of Neurogenetics Lab at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and professor of neurosciences, led by researchers Geraldine Kerjan and Hiroyuki Koizumi, has been studying a disorder called “lissencephaly.” In Greek, leios means smooth, and kephale means brain or head.

Children with lissencephaly have a smooth brain surface that lacks the normal hills and valleys that are characteristic of the human brain.

The researchers were recently successful in developing a mouse model that showed some of the features of this disorder, usually the first step towards understanding the cause of a genetic disorder, said an UCSD release.

But the severe epilepsy that is associated with lissencephaly was never displayed in any of the animals, so the team kept removing gene after gene until they hit upon a strain that showed epilepsy. That gene was in the hippocampus.

Their study was published online Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Sci-Tech |