New feature identified in gene activity could provide answers on why epilepsy develops.

In another acknowledgement of the high quality research that is taking place in Ireland, researchers in FutureNeuro and the RCSI – in conjunction with their colleagues in Severo Ochoa-Centre for Molecular Biology and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) of Barcelona in Spain– have reported the identification of a new feature of how brain cells behave in people with temporal lobe epilepsy. Their work is published in the journal Brain.

Changes in gene activity are known to be a contributory factor in the development of epilepsy. In general, brain activity is stimulated by the production of certain proteins that allow brain cells to function and carry out their specific functions within the brain. his is a process known as polyadenylation.

The researchers decided to focus on this process, the first time it has been studied in epilepsy. They discovered that the process of polydenylation is dramatically altered in about one third of genes of someone with epilepsy. As a result, the production of proteins in the brain is affected which could provide answers as to why a person may develop epilepsy. That information may point to novel targets for seizure control and even the ability to modify the condition itself.

Lead researcher in this investigation, Dr. Tobias Engel commented, “Our discovery adds another piece to the puzzle to help us understand why gene activity is different in someone with epilepsy. It is remarkable that so many active genes in the brain show a change in this polyadenylation process. We believe that this could ultimately lead us to new targeted treatments, allowing us to investigate if we could stop a person from developing epilepsy.”

We look forward to hearing more on the continuing research on this exciting new discovery. We would like to congratulate all researchers involved in this work - particularly those in the RCSI & FutureNeuro with whom we have a close connection given our collaboration on many projects over the years.

If you would like to read more on this study, you can read the full FutureNeuro press release here or you can access the abstract to the study here.

As always, Epilepsy Ireland will continue to monitor emerging worldwide research on the condition and update our website and social media channels .

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