24-06-2015 | New amino acid that stops seizures discovered

A new study by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has revealed that a previously mysterious amino acid appears to act as a seizure inhibitor in animal models.

The D-leucine amino acid, found in many foods and in bacteria, interrupted status epilepticus (prolonged seizures) just as effectively as diazepam, the most commonly used status epilepticus drug.

Results also suggest that D-leucine works differently from current anti-seizure drugs, a finding that may pave the way for much-needed new avenues of treatment in the future.

"Our results suggest that D-leucine affects neurons differently from other known therapies to control seizures. This finding gives us hope of new approaches to epilepsy on the horizon,"said senior investigator J. Marie Hardwick, Ph.D., the David Bodian Professor in microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Investigators had started out with the premise that certain amino acids may play a role in seizure prevention because they produce some of the same metabolic by-products as high-fat ketogenic diets, known to have an impact on certain types of seizures.

The study appears in the journal Neurobiology of Disease

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