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Study yields clues about the evolution of epilepsy
Date:1/6/2009

Troy, N.Y. Two children have a seizure. One child never has another seizure. Twenty years later, the other child has a series of seizures and is diagnosed with epilepsy. A study being led by researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is looking at what could possibly happen in the development of these two children that would lead to such extreme variations in their neurologic health.

The findings reveal that genetic predisposition, coupled with the occurrence of a patient's first seizures, could set the neurologic stage for the later onset of epilepsy. The researchers are now on the hunt to determine what blip in the genetic code could separate a child who will develop epilepsy from a child who will not.

The team's latest research, which is being published in the January edition of Experimental Neurology, is led by Russell Ferland, an assistant professor of biology at Rensselaer within the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, and his graduate student Dominick Papandrea, in collaboration with Bruce Herron of the University at Albany and the Wadsworth Center.

To help understand seizure behavior in humans, the researchers first looked to understand the behavior in animal models. In particular, they analyzed specific strains of mice that exhibit striking seizure predispositions, which could offer a glimpse into why epilepsy only develops in certain patients following initial seizures.

One strain is predisposed to have a high resistance to seizures, but that resistance decreases over time as multiple seizures occur. When this strain was examined for seizures after a month, the resistance remained low, indicating a long-lasting change in seizure resistance. Strikingly, the type of seizure was remarkably different after the one-month rest period, Ferland said. Prior to the rest period, the seizures were classic clonic seizures, involving rapid shaking of the limbs. After the rest period, the seizur
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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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