Canadian academics make some exciting advances in epilepsy research

Canadian researchers at Western University in London, Ontario, have made a significant discovery which could assist in the long term research into epilepsy.

Michael O. Poulter (PhD) from the Robarts Research Institute is a scientist and a Professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Poulter's academic team, including PhD candidate Chakravarthi Narla, completed a study which was published in the scientific journal, Science Magazine. Their work focused on the effect of stress as it frequently causes severe seizures.

During stressful situations a neurotransmitting hormone called 'corticotropin-releasing factor' (CRF) is active in the brains, but research by the team from Western surprisingly discovered that CRF has a completely different reaction in a brain with seizure activity when compared to someone who does not have the condition.

The research discovered that in a brain effected by epilepsy the 'piriform cortex' area becomes excited while it has a relaxing effect when compared to a 'normal brain'.

Professor Poulter said. "What we found is that there is a switch in the molecular signalling in the brain. In the model of epilepsy, the CRF switches from signalling through one cascade to one that's completely different and we discovered that the catalyst for that is a protein in the brain called the regulator of G protein signalling protein type 2 (RGS2)."

Academics are excited about the findings which they believe should lead to new paths of further research.

There are two ramifications: first in terms of treatment of epilepsy that a CRF inhibitor might be used to prevent stress-induced seizures and the other wider implication is that this research seems to suggest that brain diseases may induce as yet undiscovered changes in other neurochemical processes that make disorders like depression or schizophrenia worse than they might otherwise be.

Further Information: