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Neuro Chip Could Help Scientists Identify Drugs that Work Best to Treat Epilepsy

Epilepsy Research - Thu, 10/27/2016 - 11:20

Researchers at the University of Calgary, in Canada, have developed a neuro chip that enables long-term, high fidelity recordings from brain cells at a resolution 15 times higher than existing setups.

According to Pierre Wijdenes and the co-authors of the study, which is published in the journal, Scientific Reports, this new technology could help better understand brain function and offers great opportunities, not only to test different drug compounds and find the best medication that works for a particular patient, but also to develop new drug discovery devices in the future.

“So we’re actually getting closer to personal medication in a sense,” said Wijdenes in a news release. However, he added that the new chip is a “baby step” towards developing personalised treatments and warned that this kind of approach is likely still decades away.

So far, the scientists have used the chip to take recordings from the neurons of a fresh water snail, Lymnea stagnalis, which provides structurally and functionally well-characterised neurons that are relatively large in size.

They isolated individual neurons from the snails, cultured them in the laboratory and placed them on the chip inside an incubator. They then studied their electrophysiological activity over time.

According to the researchers, whereas most setups can only record neuronal activity for a few minutes, the new neuro chip allows them to take continuous recordings for several weeks. This means that they can evaluate the effects of different drug compounds on neuronal activity over time.

Senior Author Dr Naweed Syed told the Calgary Metro: “We don’t know what goes wrong with conditions like epilepsy. This technology is proof of concept that we can integrate technology with the brain. We are hoping in the future we will be able to use these chips to regain lost brain function.”

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

Click here for more articles about brain science including genetics.







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Could Voluntary Exercise Delay Status Epilepticus?

Epilepsy Research - Wed, 10/26/2016 - 07:38

Voluntary exercise can increase the time it takes for the development of status epilepticus following a stimulation, according to experimental research published in the scientific journal, Epilepsy and Behavior.

During the study, researchers led by Dr Ricardo Mario Arida, at Universidade Federal de São Paulo, in Brazil, used female adult rodents to try and establish whether exercise programmes can interfere with seizure susceptibility.

While many studies have investigated the effects of exercise on epilepsy, these have been exclusively performed in male animals by convention.

“However, females are also worthy of investigation because of their cyclical hormonal fluctuations and possible pregnancy,” the authors write.

For the present study, the team divided the female rodents into three groups. They subjected them to controlled, forced and voluntary exercise, and then induced epileptic seizures in them using the drug pilocarpine.

The scientists observed the animals for four hours and recorded: the time that passed until the animals developed status epilepticus; the number of animals that developed status epilepticus; and the intensity of motor signs induced by the drug.

Although they saw no difference among the three groups of animals in the time that passed for first motor signs to appear, or in the number of animals that developed status epilepticus, they found that in animals that were provided with an exercise wheel in their cage (the voluntary exercise group), the time it took for status epilepticus to develop was longer compared to animals in the controlled exercise and forced exercise groups. In other word, in animals that exercised as they wanted status epilepticus developed later.

“Our behavioral results are not enough to explain physiological and molecular pathways, but there are mechanisms described in literature which may allow us to propose possible explanations,” the authors write.

They also note that future studies should address the possible mechanism behind these results, and that gender specific differences should be considered.

Status epilepticus is defined as a continuous seizure lasting more than 30 minutes, or two or more seizures without full recovery of consciousness between them. According to some scientists, any seizures that lasts more than five minutes should to be treated as status epilepticus.

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya


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Virtual Special Issues: Targeted Reviews

Epilepsy and Behavior - Tue, 10/25/2016 - 19:00

Edited By Bruce P. Hermann

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New Compound Could Protect Against the Development of Seizures in Drug-Resistant Epilepsy

Epilepsy Research - Tue, 10/25/2016 - 08:31

Please note that Epilepsy Research UK does not endorse/promote individual epilepsy treatments or pharmaceutical companies.

A study has shown that huperzine A, a naturally occurring compound often used in traditional Chinese medicine, has a protective effect against experimentally-induced seizures in rodent models of epilepsy. The work is published in the scientific journal, Frontiers in Pharmacology.

According to the authors, huperzine A may therefore provide a new treatment option for people with drug-resistant epilepsy.

For the study, researchers from the US induced epileptic seizures in mice either chemically or using an electric-based methods. They found that treating the animals with huperzine A eliminated all seizures in the majority of animals.

The scientists also used mouse models of Dravet syndrome and genetic epilepsy with febrile seizures plus (GEFS+), and saw that huperzine A conferred protection against seizures in these ‘mutant’ animals. Moreover, this protection was sustained for three weeks when the compound was injected daily to mouse models of GEFS+.

The researchers conclude that huperzine A may also increase seizure resistance in people with Dravet syndrome and GEFS+, as well as in other forms of drug-resistant epilepsy.

Biscayne, a Florida-based pharmaceutical company, has already developed a synthetic form of huperzine A called BIS-001. They are planning to start a phase one clinical trial to test its safety and efficacy in adults with drug resistant epilepsy, as well as in children, once juvenile animal safety testing has been completed.

Dr Steven Schachter, Co-Author of the study and a scientific co-founder of Biscayne,  said in a press release: “We are eager to test BIS-001 in clinical trials to see if the dramatic elimination of seizures observed in these animals can be replicated in patients, who are in great need of better treatment options.”

Dravet syndrome is caused by a mutation in a gene called SCN1A and is characterised by prolonged and recurrent early-life febrile seizures, drug-resistant afebrile epilepsy and cognitive and behavioural difficulties.

Mutations in the SCN1A gene can also cause GEFS+, which is an inherited form of epilepsy characterised by early-life febrile seizures and the development of several types of adult epilepsy.

Current antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) often fail to treat both Dravet syndrome and GEFS+.

Author: Dr Özge Özkaya

Click here for more articles about other treatments for epilepsy.

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Medication adherence in women with epilepsy who are planning pregnancy

Epilepsia - Tue, 10/25/2016 - 03:10
Summary Objective

This study examines medication adherence among women with epilepsy via use of an electronic diary, as part of a prospective multicenter observational study designed to evaluate fertility in women with epilepsy (WWE) versus age-matched controls.


WWE and healthy age-matched controls, seeking pregnancy, were given an iPod Touch using a customized mobile application (the WEPOD App) for daily data tracking. Eighty-six WWE tracked seizures and antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Tracking of nonepilepsy medications was optional. Diary data were counted from enrollment date until date of delivery, or up to 12 months if pregnancy was not achieved. Each day that subjects reported missing one or more AED was counted as nonadherence. Because adherence can only be determined in women who track consistently, we elected to include adherence data only for women who tracked >80% of days in the study.


Approximately 75% of WWE tracked >80% of days and were included in medication adherence data analysis. In this group, medication adherence rate was 97.71%; 44% of women admitted to missing an AED on at least 1 day. Among the subgroup of WWE who recorded nonepilepsy medications, AED adherence rate was 98.56%, versus 93.91% for non-AEDs.


The 75% compliance rate with an electronic diary suggests that it may be useful to track medication adherence in future studies and in the clinical setting. In those who tracked, the observed medication adherence rate was considerably higher than the 75% adherence rate seen in previous epilepsy studies. This might be explained in part by selection bias, but may also result from properties of the diary itself (daily reminders, real time feedback given to the provider). Women reported a higher rate of adherence to AEDs than to other prescribed medications and supplements, suggesting that perceived importance of medications likely influences medication adherence, and warrants future study.

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Surgical treatment of polymicrogyria-related epilepsy

Epilepsia - Tue, 10/25/2016 - 02:20
Summary Objective

The role of resective surgery in the treatment of polymicrogyria (PMG)–related focal epilepsy is uncertain. Our aim was to retrospectively evaluate the seizure outcome in a consecutive series of patients with PMG-related epilepsy who received, or did not receive, surgical treatment, and to outline the clinical characteristics of patients who underwent surgery.


We evaluated 64 patients with epilepsy associated with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)–documented PMG. After presurgical evaluation, 32 patients were excluded from surgical treatment and 32 were offered surgery, which was declined by 8 patients. Seizure outcome was assessed in the 40 nonsurgical and 24 surgical patients.


Of 40 nonsurgical patients, 8 (20%) were seizure-free after a mean follow-up of 91.7 ± (standard deviation) 59.5 months. None of the eight patients who declined surgical treatment was seizure-free (mean follow-up: 74.3 ± 60.6 months). These seizure outcomes differ significantly (p = 0.000005 and p = 0.0003, respectively) from that of the 24 surgical patients, 18 of whom (66.7%) were Engel's class I postoperatively (mean follow-up: 66.5 ± 54.0 months). Of the eight patients excluded from surgery for seizure control at first visit, two had seizure recurrence at last contact. At last contact, antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) had been withdrawn in 6 of 24 surgical and in one of 40 nonsurgical cases (p = 0.0092).


The present study indicates that, at least in a subset of adequately selected patients with PMG-related epilepsy, surgery may provide excellent seizure outcomes. Furthermore, it suggests that surgery is superior to AEDs for achieving seizure freedom in these cases.

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The importance of people compliance (social desirability bias) in the assessment of epilepsy prevalence in rural areas of developing countries. Results of the Atahualpa Project

Epilepsia - Mon, 10/24/2016 - 04:30

Epilepsy is a major health issue in rural areas of developing countries. However, heterogeneity of epilepsy prevalence in different studies precludes assessment of the magnitude of the problem. Using similar protocols, two population-based surveys were conducted 12 years apart (2003 and 2015) in a rural Ecuadorian village (Atahualpa). The only difference was a higher people compliance with interviewers during the second survey. Epilepsy prevalence in the 2003 survey was 13.5 per 1,000 (18/1,332) in villagers aged ≥20 years. This rate increased to 26.8 per 1,000 (41/1,530) in the 2015 survey. Thirty-three persons with epilepsy detected during the second survey lived in the village in 2003; six of them had seizures starting after 2003. Of the remaining 27 cases, 13 (48%) denied their problem during the first survey. Further interview revealed that denial was related to lack of confidence with unacquainted field personnel. Social Desirability Scale-17 scores were lower in those who admitted having epilepsy than in those who denied their condition (p = 0.048). Lack of confidence with interviewers and a social desirability bias account for a sizable proportion of epilepsy denial in the study population, and may explain heterogeneity of epilepsy prevalence reported in studies conducted in poor rural settings.

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