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Drug prevents seizure progression in model of epilepsy
Date:5/4/2009

PITTSBURGHCarnegie Mellon University researchers have identified a new anticonvulsant compound that has the potential to stop the development of epilepsy. The findings are published in the March issue of the journal Epilepsia.

The research discovery builds on previous work identifying a specific molecular target whose increased activity is associated with seizure disorders, a potassium channel known as the BK channel.

"We have found a new anticonvulsant compound that eliminates seizures in a model of epilepsy," said Alison Barth, associate professor of biological sciences at Carnegie Mellon's Mellon College of Science. "The drug works by inhibiting ion channels whose role in epilepsy was only recently discovered. Understanding how these channels work in seizure disorders, and being able to target them with a simple treatment, represents a significant advance in our ability to understand and treat epilepsy."

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by abnormal electrical activity in the brain that leads to recurring seizures. A person who has a first seizure is statistically much more likely to have a second, and with each subsequent seizure, the chance of having another seizure grows. A person is often diagnosed with epilepsy after having two or more seizures that have no other apparent cause.

In prior studies, Barth and colleagues were the first to link BK channels, ion channels that allow electrically charged potassium ions to move out of cells, to sporadic epilepsy. Previous studies had shown that these channels were genetically altered in a few rare individuals who suffer from the disease, but Barth and colleagues demonstrated that seizures themselves could lead to the same alterations in BK channel function. Potassium ions move through the channels, starting and stopping the electrical impulses that allow neurons to communicate with one another. The Carnegie Mellon researchers found that after a fir
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Contact: Jocelyn Duffy
jhduffy@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-9982
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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