21-8-2009 | Research could lead to new treatment of epilepsy

21 August 2009
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Research by Welsh scientists could lead to radical new treatments for epilepsy.

Half of all cases of the condition are linked to an obvious cause such as a head injury, brain tumour or another neurological disease. In almost all other cases the condition is believed to have a genetic basis - but so far little progress has been made in identifying the genes responsible.

However, the latest study by the researchers from Swansea University, working with counterparts from the University of Leeds shows that a mutation in a gene called ATP1A3 can lead to a severe form of epilepsy in mice. If these findings translate to human beings, they could pave the way for more effective treatments that could in the future make inherited epilepsy a thing of the past.

The study has shown that inherited epilepsy can be halted by silencing the gene responsible for its development. Professor Mark Rees, leader of the Swansea University arm of the joint research project, said clinical trials are to start soon.

Professor Rees said: "This study has a great deal of potential for the development of specifically tailored drugs to treat epilepsy. Dr Steve Clapcote (leader of the Leeds University researchers) and I have been working together for some time screening an archive of DNA samples from epileptic patients and we are now applying for grant funding to move forward into clinical trials. I am very much looking forward to the results of these trials as results to date are very promising indeed."


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