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30-06-2017| Upcoming Genetic Research: Could it Potentially be the Answer?

30 June 2017
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For typical gene therapy, the excitability of neurons is decreased by means of gene modification. This form of therapy could potentially mean replacing surgery for drug resistant focal seizures. The issue with current gene therapy is that they have a permanent effect and the neurons do not get 'excited' anymore, or need to be re-administered whenever a seizure would return. They are also unable to target the specific area which can harm normal cells.

Dr. Lignani (A New ERUK Funded Fellowship) is working on a new method of gene therapy that only activates specific neurons that are excessively excitable during a seizure. The result of the therapy should entail that the activation of hyperexcitable neurons that increase the activity of the target genes will return to normal behavior. The target genes are chosen for their particular ability to reduce neuronal excitability. Once the seizure is over, the therapy is created to "switch off" until excitability starts again.

This study could change the way researchers understand which brain cells help trigger seizures and what genes can be targeted to stop them. Dr. Lignani believes the new gene therapy may reach clinical trials in 5-10 years.

Article source: Epilepsy Research UK

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