21-9-2009 | Study Links Epilepsy to Brain Protein

21 September 2009
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New research has uncovered possible causes of epilepsy related to signals in the brain that malfunction.

Using mice models, researchers in Germany found that when a certain protein is missing, the animals have epileptic seizures from an early age. When the protein was restored, the brains of the mice began acting normally again.

The protein involved is called plasticity related gene-1 (PRG-1) and it appears to be important to the brain's ability to calm and regulate itself. It does this by interacting with a particular class of lipids, known as lipid phosphates, which act as important cellular signals.

The researchers speculate that changes in lipid phosphate signalling and PRG-1 function may be unrecognised causes of epilepsy particularly as PRG-1 doesn't show up anywhere in the body except a very specific area of the brain.

The findings add a new layer to science's understanding of how the brain functions and may lead epilepsy research in new directions in future.

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