Researchers at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) have developed a new method for detailed analyses of electrical activity in the brain. The method, recently published in Neuron, can help doctors and researcher to better interpret brain cell signals. In turn, this may lead to considerable steps forward in terms of interpreting for example EEG measurements, making diagnoses and treatment of various brain illnesses. Researchers and doctors have been measuring and interpreting electrical activity generated by brain cells since 1875. Doctors have over the years acquired considerable practical skills in relating signal shapes to different brain illnesses such as epilepsy. However, doctors have so far had little knowledge on how these signals are formed in the network of nerve cells.
About half of newborns who have seizures go on to have long-term intellectual and memory deficits and cognitive disorders such as autism, but why this occurs has been unknown. In the December 14 Journal of Neuroscience, researchers at Children's Hospital Boston detail how early-life seizures disrupt normal brain development, and show in a rat model that it might be possible to reverse this pathology by giving certain drugs soon after the seizure. A research team led by Frances Jensen, MD, in the Department of Neurology and Division of Neuroscience at Children's, studied seizures in a rat model to see how they affected brain development at the cellular and molecular level, and whether these effects could be countered. They were particularly interested in the effect of seizures on synapses, the connections between neurons through which the brain is wired, since infancy is a time of rapid synapse development.
Seizures in women of childbearing age commonly show patterns of exacerbation that involve hormones as a factor. Investigators reported the favorable outcome of a multicenter randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled phase III clinical trial of progesterone therapy in reducing these perimenstrually exacerbated (catamenial) seizures. Results of the NIH-sponsored study are being presented during the American Epilepsy Society's 65th annual meeting here at the Baltimore Convention Center. (Abstract 3.191) Progesterone is a naturally occurring steroid known to dampen neuronal excitability and seizures. The purpose of the clinical trial was to compare progesterone versus placebo in lessening seizures in women with partial epilepsy. "We found that progesterone can provide a clinically important benefit for a substantial portion of women with catamenial seizures, " says lead investigator Andrew G.
In women of childbearing age with epilepsy, seizure exacerbation may occur either at the time of menstruation or ovulation. Investigators in a specialized epilepsy center have analyzed the data on a group of patients with seizures associated with their menstrual cycles (catamenial seizures) for type of epilepsy, seizure frequency, response to medication, neuroimaging findings, and seizures during pregnancy. (Abstract 3.168) Results of the study at the University of California, Irvine, Comprehensive Epilepsy Center were presented today at the America Epilepsy Society's 65th annual meeting here at the Baltimore Convention Center. The investigators found that two-thirds of the women with catamenial epilepsy had a diagnosis of partial epilepsy, with the remaining one-third having primary generalized epilepsy.
Epilepsy drug-switching study shows that using more ethical control groups could be the way forward for testing both drug efficacy and safety For the first time, a new research methodology recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration has been used to demonstrate that converting patients from one anti-epileptic drug to another - in this case, lamotrigine extended-release (LTG XR) - is well-tolerated, effective and safe. The work by Jacqueline French and her team, from New York University in the US, illustrates how the new methodology addresses ethical issues inherent in more traditional study designs. It is published online in Springer's journal, Neurotherapeutics. The use of traditional control groups in experimental designs can raise some ethical concerns, such as using inferior treatments for the control group in the study of an illness with significant morbidity and mortality, such as epilepsy.