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New method developed for diagnosing epilepsy from resting state data   (Dec 2014)

UK scientists have found a new way of diagnosing and analysing cases of idiopathic generalised epilepsy using data from patients at rest.
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New mechanism for absence seizures.    (Dec 2014)

ERUK Fellow Dr Murray Herd, from the University of Dundee, has discovered a new mode of signalling in neurons that may promote absence seizures. Introduction Absence seizures can occur between 20 and several hundred times per day, and they usually last between five and 20 seconds. During a seizure the person usually loses consciousness briefly; stops whatever they are doing
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Seizure control after epilepsy surgery


A carefully considered proportion of people with epilepsy who do not respond to anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are referred for surgery. Even if successful, however, AEDs are often needed to achieve complete seizure freedom; but what is the most effective regime? Scientists in China have been investigating.

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Can the risks of sodium valproate exposure before birth be reduced?


Sodium valproate is well known for its risks to unborn children, however whether or not these can be reduced through adjustment of dose/drug formulation has not been explored. Researchers in Dublin have recently addressed this issue.

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Febrile seizures: is the risk of epilepsy life-long?


Febrile seizures (seizures associated with fever) are common in young children, and can significantly increase their risk of developing epilepsy later on. It has been reported that this risk remains high long-term, but is this actually the case?

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Important clues about neural signaling

Neurons must ensure that signals are accurately transmitted between different parts of the body, however it is not entirely clear how they achieve this.  Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have now found some helpful clues about the initiation of signals and the region in which this occurs.
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A possible tool to predict side-effect risk

Anti-epileptic drugs successfully control seizures in approximately two thirds of people with epilepsy; however they can cause some highly unpleasant and potentially serious side-effects.  Researchers in Liverpool and Ireland have now found a gene that might help doctors predict who is susceptible to these effects.
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A newly-discovered brain protection mechanism

Researchers in the US have discovered that a compound found throughout the body can protect the brain against seizures.  This could have important implications for epilepsy treatment.
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The mechanisms behind absence epilepsy

Absence epilepsy is one of the most common types of epilepsy in children, but its precise cause is still not clear. A current theory is that the processes that govern sleep in normal brains somehow become disturbed in absence epilepsy and lead to seizures. Dr Murray Herd, from the University of Dundee, will be looking at the role of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in these mechanisms.
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A closer look at how seizures start

In 2008, Dr Premysl Jiruska, from the University of Birmingham, was awarded a fellowship to examine the activity of neurons in the brain right at the point at which a seizure begins. He has now been granted funds to purchase a piece of equipment that will allow him to study this activity even more closely, and gain better quality information from his research.
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New insights into photosensitive epilepsy and seizure activity

About five percent of people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy, whereby most of their seizures are triggered by certain frequencies of flashing light, or other visual stimuli. Dr Khalid Hamandi, from the University Hospital of Wales, and colleagues from Cardiff University, will be comparing the activity of neurons in the brains of people with photosensitive epilepsy, non-photosensitive epilepsy and those without epilepsy, to gain more information about how photosensitive seizures occur.
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Improving pre-surgery assessment

Before performing epilepsy surgery, surgeons must identify the area of the brain that needs to be removed. Traditional EEG scanning is the most common technique used, but this is not always accurate and epileptic tissue often remains unidentified (and unremoved). Professor Matthew Walker, from the Institute of Neurology, University College London, will be looking at two new and advanced methods of brain investigation that could potentially improve the identification of epileptic tissue and the outcome of epilepsy surgery in the future.
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What causes drug-resistant epilepsy?

Approximately one third of people with epilepsy do not respond to anti-epileptic drugs, but the reasons for this are still not clear. One theory is that in drug-resisant epilepsy the mechanisms that feed the brain and protect it from harmful toxins, also shunt anti-epileptic drugs out, meaning that they can no longer function. Dr Graeme Sills, from the University of Liverpool, will be examining a specific family of proteins in the brain and their role in anti-epileptic drug resistance.
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Can we reduce memory loss in epilepsy?

A large number of people with epilepsy experience problems with memory, but the reasons for this are not clear. Dr Christopher Butler, from the University of Oxford, will be studying a type of memory loss known as accelerated long-term forgetting, which has recently been discovered in people with epilepsy. He hopes to develop tools that will help reduce this type of memory loss in the future.
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Does the immune system play a role in epilepsy?

The immune system is designed to protect our bodies from infection, and from 'foreign' bodies, that have somehow entered (for example viruses or bacteria that have entered through a cut in the skin).  One of the ways in which the immune system works is to produce molecules known as antibodies, which bind to and destroy the unwanted agent.
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A non-invasive approach that could improve hopes for epilepsy surgery outcomes.

A new imaging technique in children with tuberous sclerosis gives hope for better epilepsy surgery outcomes. Children with tuberous sclerosis complex often also have epilepsy, and surgery may be the best treatment option. Pre-surgical assessment techniques are currently highly invasive and uncomfortable, and can increase the risk of surgical complications . Scientists in Los Angeles have discovered that a new, non-invasive technique could offer the best epilepsy surgery outcomes.
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Is it possible to detect who will be AED resistant?

A third of people with epilepsy are resistant to anti-epileptic drugs and must seek alternative therapies. Research in Spain has given hope that in the future it may be possible to identify the people who are resistant to anti-epileptic treatment, from their genes. This would allow clinicians to find more appropriate therapies sooner, and improve the lives of thousands of people.
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New-onset epilepsy in older people: what are the risk factors?

Many people think of epilepsy as a condition of the young, but in fact the highest incidence of new-onset epilepsy occurs in people aged 60 and over. Too frequently the symptoms of epilepsy in this age group are put down to other conditions, such as dementia, and the epilepsy often remains undiagnosed for over a year. Scientists in Texas have been trying to pinpoint the risk factors for epilepsy in older people, to help clinicians diagnose and treat them more quickly.
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Why do Seizures Happen?

Seizures occur when neurons in the brain become over-excited; but what is it that stops this from happening normally? Dr Andrew Trevelyan, at the University of Newcastle, has been awarded a fellowship to look at a special group of inhibitory nerves that may hold the answer.
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The Effects of Modern Anti-Epileptic Drugs on Unborn Babies

If a woman becomes pregnant whilst taking anti-epileptic drugs, there are certain risks to the unborn child that must be considered. Investigations into the effects of older anti-epileptic drugs are well underway; but studies into newer drugs are still lacking. With Epilepsy Research UK funding, Professor Gus Baker and Dr James Morrow, at the Universtiy of Liverpool and Royal Group of Hospitals in Belfast, will be taking steps to remedy this situation.
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Assessing the Benefits of Epilepsy Treatment

In deciding if a treatment should be made available on the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) carries out an assessment of its efficacy and value for money. All medications are currently examined using the same parameters, via a standard survey; but this doesn't take into account the differences between medical conditions and their effects on people's lives. Dr John Brazier, at the University of Sheffield, and Dr Dyfrig Hughes, at Bangor University, have been awarded a grant to develop a potential solution.
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Potassium Channels in Epilepsy

There are certain types of potassium channel that regulate the release of glutamate into synapses. Professor Matthew Walker at the Institute of Neurology, London, has been given funding to investigate these channels and their potential link to epilepsy.
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Finding Better Treatments for Epilepsy

Many of the anti-epileptic drugs available work by increasing GABA and suppressing excitatory nerves in the brain. However, these treatments are not specific, and can also block the action of some inhibitory nerves. Dr Ivan Pavlov has been awarded a fellowship to find a way of overcoming this.
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Surprising Discoveries for Severe Childhood Epilepsy

Researchers at the California San Diego School of Medicine have made interesting findings, concerning the cause of a severe childhood epilepsy and where seizures originate.
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A Potential New Therapy for Refractory Epilepsy

Scientists in Los Angeles have been investigating whether a unique kind of nerve stimulation can reduce seizure frequency.
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Can a Change of Temperature Stop a Seizure?

A group of investigators in Minneapolis, have discovered that cooling the brain can help prevent seizures.
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Epilepsy Linked To Genetic Defect on Chromosone 15

In research published in the advanced online publication of Nature Genetics, researchers have identified a genetic defect for common epilepsies on chromosome 15. A subset of patients with epilepsy lacked a certain part of this chromosome. Further studies on patients from the USA confirmed this finding. The loss of small chromosomal segments, called microdeletions by geneticists, has previously not been connected with common disorders that also include many types of common epilepsies.

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Can We Delay The Onset Of Seizures After Brain Injury?

The excitability of certain neurones in an important memory section of the brain called the entorhinal cortex (EC) has been found to be significantly higher than normal during the latent period. This is due at least partly to a change in the nature of certain ion channels in the membranes of these cells. These channels, called h-channels, are opened or closed by the size of the difference in electrical charge between the neurone and the surrounding fluid. During the latent period, the number of h-channels decreases significantly, which makes these neurones more excitable and more prone to seizure activity.

Lamotrigine is a commonly prescribed anti-epileptic treatment, which has recently been shown to enhance the activity of h-channels in neurons. In 2006 Dr Mala Shah and Professor Matthew Walker, at the Institute of Neurology, London, were awarded a grant by Epilepsy Research UK, to find out if lamotrigine administered during the latent period is able to restore h-channel numbers to normal, and delay the onset of TLE.


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