A new gene therapy treatment for temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) could be developed according to new research by a German/ Austrian team.
TLE is one of the most common forms of epilepsy. For those with treatment resistant TLE, oftentimes the last resort for becoming seizure free is invasive brain surgery which involves the removal of part or all of the temporal lobe. While this surgery has led to many people becoming seizure free unfortunately - owing to the individual nature of epilepsy - in other cases it has not.
Researchers working out of Charité -- Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria tested targeted gene therapy on an animal model for their investigations.
This technique involved identifying a specific gene which could be inserted into a nerve cell in the area of the brain where seizures originate. The gene inserted allows the cell to produce dynorphins.
Dynorphins are peptides which are naturally produced in the body. One of their key effects is to moderate activity in the brain.
When the gene was implanted in the animal subject’s brain nerve cells, they began to produce and subsequently store dynorphins.
As a result of this technique, the researchers found that dynorphins slowed the spreading of seizure activity in the brain, meaning that seizures were suppressed for a number of months in the animals. Furthermore, no side effects were observed.
Commenting on the findings, Prof. Dr. Regine Heilbronn of Charité -- Universitätsmedizin Berlin, said “The results from our study are encouraging, prompting us to hope that this new therapeutic concept could also be successful in humans.”
Stemming from the results of their research, the team involved are aiming to get this method to clinical trial within the next few years.
Epilepsy Ireland will continue to monitor emerging worldwide research regarding the condition and will provide updates on our website.