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New gene could potentially prevent epileptic seizures

Irish researchers have discovered a new gene that could offer new hope to epilepsy sufferers.

Image: jetheriot via Creative Commons/Flickr

IRISH RESEARCHERS HAVE identified a new gene class which they say could potentially provide new treatment that would prevent epileptic seizures.

Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, clinicians at Beaumount Hospital, and experts from Madrid’s Cajal Institute say that the new class of gene, called MicroRNA, is instrumental in the control of protein production inside cells. They found much higher levels of one particular type of this gene (microRNA-13) in the part of the brain that causes epileptic seizures.

The journal Nature Medicine has published the team’s paper, which outlines how scientists used a new type of drug-like molecule called antagomir which seems to lock onto the microRNA-13 gene and remove it from the brain cell – and, by doing so, prevent epileptic seizures.

“We have been looking to find what goes wrong inside brain cells to trigger epilepsy. Our research has discovered a completely new gene linked to epilepsy and it shows how we can target this gene using drug-like molecules to reduce the brain’s susceptibility to seizures and the frequency in which they occur,” said the senior author of the paper Prof DavidC  Henshall,of the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics at the RCSI.

Approximately 37,000 people in Ireland are affected by epilepsy and, of those, one in three continue to experience seizures despite being prescribed medication.

Read: EU-funded researchers make breakthrough on robotic brain surgery>

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