Scientists shed light on causes of epilepsy

By Martina Fuchs

LONDON (Reuters) - A breakdown in a reaction between immune cells and blood vessels in the brain appears to play a key role in epilepsy, Italian researchers said Monday.

The discovery could mean that some modern antibody-based drugs designed to modify the immune system used in other diseases may one day help fight the debilitating disorder.

A study of mice showed how immune cells sticking to blood vessels in the brain caused inflammation that contributed to epileptic seizures, Gabriela Constantin of the University of Verona in Italy and colleagues reported.

The finding could lead to new treatments to prevent the condition that affects about 1 percent of the general population worldwide, said Constantin, who led the study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

“This mechanism was not previously suspected in epilepsy,” she said in a telephone interview.

Epilepsy is considered incurable but medicines can control seizures in most people with the common neurological disorder, although sometimes they can have severe side effects.

Many seizures — which are caused by excessive electrical activity in the brain — involve loss of consciousness, with the body twitching or shaking. People who have more than one seizure are considered to have epilepsy.

The researchers found that during a seizure the brain released a chemical that caused the white blood cells, or leukocytes, to stick to blood vessels. The immune cells protect the body from threats such as bacteria, viruses, and infections.

But when these immune cells stuck to the brain blood vessels they caused damage by releasing molecules that caused inflammation and contributed to seizures in mice, Constantin said.

“We found a lot of inflammation in this process in the generation of a new seizure,” she said.

Mice that received monoclonal antibodies to block the immune cells from sticking to blood vessels had a dramatic reduction of seizures, in some cases 100 percent, Constantin said.

The treatment worked in a similar way to Elan Corp Plc’s multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri and Genentech Inc’s Raptiva for psoriasis, she added.

This means these kinds of drugs might also one day be used to treat epilepsy and the findings could also lead to new anti-inflammatory treatments for epilepsy, she said.

“We predict other inflammatory drugs can work and be discovered for use in humans,” she said. “We have preliminary data on other inflammatory mechanism.”

(Reporting by Martina Fuchs, Editing by Michael Kahn)


Related Posts:

By Michelle Rizzo NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Whether brain surgery is likely to improve or worsen memory in a patient with epilepsy can be predicted before the operation is performed, according to findings in the journal Neurology. Brain surgery can be very effective for some patients whose seizures do not respond to antiepileptic drugs, “but it

Full Post: Benefits of epilepsy surgery predicted pre-op

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Researchers in Australia have designed a drug which appears effective in treating arthritis in mice, and they hope it can be used to treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus in people. In an article published in Immunology and Cell Biology, the scientists said they zeroed in on a certain human receptor,

Full Post: New inhibitor drug seen for arthritis, lupus

Neurontin is an effective drug for treating seizures linked with epilepsy for adults and also for children who are at least 12 years of age. It is also used against nerve pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia and also against nerve pains caused by herpes zoster. An anti-epileptic medication, Neurontin works by affecting the chemicals and nerves

Full Post: Neurontin is used for treating seizures associated with epilepsy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The popular multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri appears to promote a rare brain infection by suppressing immune system cells in the brain, researchers said on Tuesday. The researchers, who conducted an autopsy on an MS patient who died while taking the drug, said it may be possible to make the drug safer by giving

Full Post: MS drug Tysabri may promote brain infection: study

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lung cancer cells produce a compound that helps the tumor spread to other parts of the body, a finding that could lead to a new way to prevent this dangerous development, researchers reported on Wednesday. They said a protein called versican hijacks elements of the immune system, generating inflammation that can

Full Post: Study points to way of stopping lung cancer spread

Site Navigation

Most Read