Biology & Medicine

Treatment found to prevent epilepsy in mice gives hope for drug development

Targeting a particular signaling pathway in mice can prevent the development of temporal lobe epilepsy with just two weeks of treatment, scientists report in Neuron

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Temporal lobe epilepsy, the most common form of epilepsy, is characterized by recurrent seizures throughout life and often behavioral abnormalities, with devastating impacts on patients and their families. Unfortunately, the condition is often not responsive to anticonvulsants.

Now scientists report online in the Cell Press journal Neuron that targeting a particular signaling pathway in mice can prevent the development of temporal lobe epilepsy with just two weeks of treatment, offering hope that researchers will be able to develop effective drugs to mitigate recurrent seizures and the development of epilepsy. Many patients with temporal lobe epilepsy experience an initial episode of prolonged seizures, known as status epilepticus, which is often followed by a period of seizure-free recovery before individuals develop recurring seizures. Research in animals suggests that the prolonged seizures in status epilepticus cause or contribute to the development of epilepsy. James McNamara, MD

"An important goal of this field has been to identify the molecular mechanism by which status epilepticus transforms a brain from normal to epileptic," said Dr. James McNamara, Professor of Neurosciences and Director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience at the Duke School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. "Understanding that mechanism in molecular terms would provide a target with which one could intervene pharmacologically, perhaps to prevent an individual from becoming epileptic."

In a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy that develops after status epilepticus, Dr. McNamara and his colleagues found that inhibiting the BDNF receptor, TrkB,using genetic modification of the animal to make it susceptible to chemical disruption of TrkB action at a specific time prevents the development of epilepsy as well as associated anxiety behaviors and loss of neurons. Remarkably, a two-week treatment to block TrkB activity after the initial seizure was capable of exerting long-term protective effects.

"This demonstrated that it is possible to intervene following status epilepticus and prevent the animal from becoming epileptic," said Dr. McNamara. The findings also indicate that targeting TrkB for only a limited period of time is capable of achieving successful treatment of epilepsy without the need for lifelong therapy. This highlights TrkB as a promising target for the design of drugs to prevent epilepsy development.[divider]

The abstract

Neuron, Liu et al.: "Transient inhibition of TrkB kinase following status epilepticus prevents development of temporal lobe epilepsy."[divider] Mary Beth O'Leary

Reporting for Elsevier Connect

Mary Beth O’Leary is Press Officer and Associate Media Relations Manager for Cell Press (@CellPressNews), based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She began her career at Cell Press as an Senior Editorial Assistant for the journal Cell before transitioning into a role as Marketing/Publicity Coordinator. In December, she moved into her position as Press Officer for Cell Press’s 29 journals. A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, she studied literature and art history.

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1 Archived Comment

Robert Vautour June 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Long term studies on humans will be interesting

many people loose their license and are in

Constant worry? Old way should always be

A choice by patients for treatments? Reliability

Is the key! I am glad to see someone is taking

Up challenge maybe aplcations for other illnesses

Would be possible.

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