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Epilepsy research breakthrough

4th August 2009

A team at the University of Leeds have discovered how to prevent the Apt1a3 gene from being passed on in mice.

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The gene is responsible for regulating certain chemicals in the brain. These chemicals, which include sodium and potassium, are believed to be responsible for causing some epilepsy cases.

The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could pave the way for new methods of treating epilepsy.

Lead researcher Dr Steve Clapcote said: "An imbalance of sodium and potassium levels has long been suspected to lead to epileptic seizures, but our study is the first to show beyond any doubt that a defect in this gene is responsible."

The Atp1a3 gene in the human body is over 99% similar to the type found in mice.

Epilepsy is found in one in 200 people and in most cases the causes are not known. One third of sufferers cannot be treated with medicine to help their condition.

The researchers used Myshkin mice, which are prone to fits. They found that the mice who had fits also carried a faulty version of the Atp1a3 gene.

They bred the mice with other mice who had an additional copy of the regular Atp1a3 gene. The regular gene offset the faulty gene and as a result their progeny did not have epilepsy.

Dr Clapcote said: "Our study has identified a new way in which epilepsy can be caused and prevented in mice, and therefore it may provide clues to potential causes, therapies and preventive measures in human epilepsy."


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Article Information

Title: Epilepsy research breakthrough
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 12377
Date Added: 4th Aug 2009

Sources

The Telegraph
The Times
The Independent
BBC News
New Scientist

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