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Possible link between different forms of epilepsy found by Carnegie Mellon scientists
Date:6/16/2008

erited epilepsy are linked to mutations in different ion channels, there has been little overlap between these ion channels and those channels that are affected by sporadic or acquired forms of epilepsy," Barth said. "BK channels could represent a common pathway activated in familial and sporadic cases of epilepsy."

The BK channel allows electrically charged potassium ions into and out of cells. This activity starts and stops the electrical impulses by which neurons communicate with one another. Barth and her colleagues were specifically interested in investigating BK channels' function following a first seizure. Their in vitro studies revealed that, after a seizure, BK channel function was enhanced neurons fired quicker, stronger and more spontaneously. This abnormal activity might underlie the transition between a single seizure and the emergence of epilepsy, characterized by recurrent seizures.

"We found that seizures caused cells to become more excitable, and that BK channel antagonists bring everything back to normal. These channels are at a nexus of control and represent a new target for anticonvulsant therapies," Barth said.

It is also possible that BK channel antagonists could be used early, perhaps after an initial seizure, to prevent cellular changes that lead to epilepsy, according to Barth.


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Contact: Jocelyn Duffy
jhduffy@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-9982
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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