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  • Writer's pictureEpilepsy Connections: ECA


So far we have covered how much Epilepsy treatment and General Neurological advances (plus advances in other fields) have changed how we view seizures and how / why they occur. But we'd like to finish our series of stories on how treatment for Epilepsy and advances in research will result from these numerous discoveries.

What we wanted to highlight most in this series was that Epilepsy treatments have been so varying in effectiveness, with so many side effects - and that this was due to not knowing how electrical signals are conducted / regulated in the body / brain.

This meant that there was no way to proactively do research into new treatments... how do you choose to research a treatment on something if you don't know why the symptoms occur or even the basic systems that control it? How can you research "irregularities" or "malfunctions" in systems if you don't know how they operate "normally"?

To recap: we now know there are 2 main forms of Neuron (excitory / inhibitory) and 150 subcategories within, and the balance of "excitement" (high response rate signals) with "inhibition" (low response rate signals) regulates how the electrical signals in our body are sent, encoded, increased vs decreased and ultimately interpreted / responded to by the brain / body.

The Neurons pass signals not directly - by via "Channels" created by other particles / ions (predominantly sodium, potassium and calcium) that are "conductive" aligning like a pool of electro-conductive fluid between batteries. Faults in these conductive ion levels can increase electrical activity - and this can be caused genetically, via illness, cellular malformations and more.

But now that we have this much more defined idea of how our Neurological / Nerve signals are conducted "normally" we can firstly identify "abnormalities" in these systems, but secondly do proactive research based on being able to identify these errors and look at likely / possible treatments for this directly.

We wanted to highlight a recent study into a very specific research topic - that of the relation of sodium ions in "polyamines - specifically spermine - in regulation of sodium ions into conductive cells". It was found that...

(Quote:) "Like a type of door, sodium channels allow sodium ions to flow into nerve cells through tiny pores. They consist of large protein complexes located in the membranes of nerve cells. After a long search, the team of researchers found a completely different group of substances: the polyamines. Spermine belongs to this group; it is produced in cells and plugs the pores of the sodium channels from within. Spermine then acts like a doorman, blocking entry to sodium ions and dampening the excitability of the nerve cells.

This is leading to new research into the mechanisms that regulate levels of spermine in Neurons and other conductive cells - and could be used to develop drugs that have a "Neural dampening effect" by increasing spermine levels (as an example) to create a blocking effect for sodium ions entering conductive cell membranes hence lowering rates of Neural conductivity (phew, what a mouthful...!).

This research could then possibly be used for new Epilepsy medications / treatments.

Another new study is into "Cellular malformations in Neuron funnels increasing excitability". This theorises that a "hardening" or "crystalisation" of the interior of a Nueron causes an amplification in signal strength - in the same way that if you passed a light through a matte black tube it would be very different to if you shone the same light through a mirrored / reflective tube. This could lead to research into genetic coding (both DNA and RNA sequencing) errors or even treatments to reverse this cellular "crystallisation effect".

The point we wish to make is that the advances and greater understanding of why seizures occur (Epilepsy or other) is already leading to exciting new research will will in turn lead to radical changes in treatments.

For too long Epilepsy has had the stigma of "we don't know why it happens - we don't really know how to treat it other than to use massive impact Neurological suppressants derived from sedatives or anti-depressants with severe side effects... and there will never b a cure".

Now its a case of "we know how these systems operate normally - we can now identify malfunctions / abnormalities in these systems and use these discoveries for the basis of more specific, targeted research then treatment studies".

We should be a lot more optimistic about the prospects for Epilepsy treatments - and even possibly a cure - happening very rapidly in our world.

(see link to related medical publication:…/2015-11-mechanism-epilepsy.html)

Paul Lang: ECA CEO & Founder

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