Brain-Protein Study Could Lead To New Epilepsy Drugs

Written epilepsy diagnosis, with pills.
Print icon

Research identifying the role of a specific protein in the brain in triggering epileptic seizures could spark creation of a new family of medications to help patients with the disease, according to Dr. Gabriel Martz,  director of the Epilepsy Center at the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute.

The research, published in a recent issue of the academic journal Nature Communications, suggests that the protein collybindin, previously not thought to be relevant in the brain activity that activates or inhibits seizures, could actually play a role. A new medication, he says, could target the collybindin or its binding site in the brain to help curb seizures.

“We have many drugs on the market but most work in fairly similar ways,” Dr. Martz says. “This could lead to a new way of approaching the problem and of reducing cortical excitability, which many people think is the route of the problem of seizures.”

More than 50 million people in the world, and 3.4 million Americans, have epilepsy, making it one of the most widespread neurological conditions, according to the World Health Organization. In a healthy brain, nerve cells send electrical signals to each other. In parts of the brain of someone with epilepsy, abnormally high levels of electrical signals disrupt normal neurological function.

The research, conducted by neuroscientists at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, expands the understanding of the signaling between neurons in epilepsy. Regulating the proteins in the brain that control cell signaling may lead to better therapies for stopping or preventing seizures entirely.

“This is a new piece in a big and age-old puzzle,” Dr. Martz says. “It is a stepping-off point for other research that will likely teach us more about how the brain works and may help improve the treatment for seizures, depending on whether medications that work on this protein can be identified and would be safe to take.”

The researchers also connected collybindin with anxiety, which Dr. Martz explains is because many signaling pathways in the brain affect multiple aspects of human functions and emotions.

“This protein seems to be involved in pathways for seizures and anxiety, in that the mice they developed with abnormalities of this protein had those problems,” he says. “It proves it can be relevant.”

For more information about treatment for epilepsy available at Hartford HealthCare, click here.

 


What's New

Walk on the Beach

Is it Safe to Take a Summer Vacation, Even Fly?

Distancing, both physical and social, is the buzzword of the year and one Hartford HealthCare (HHC) experts want you to remember as the state reopens and you begin venturing out of your home this summer. The warmer months, when kids are traditionally of school, are a time when many people...

COVID and Pets

CDC’s COVID-19 Update Spares Pets, Downgrades Threat of Infected Surfaces

COVID-19 spreads more person-to-person than surface-to-person or animal-to-person, according to the latest update guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The person-to-person spread surprises no one, but the CDC has downgraded the risk of  touching a contaminated surface, then infecting yourself by touching your nose, eyes or mouth....


Windham paramedic program honors 25 years

Since its inception 25 years ago, the paramedic program at Windham Hospital has saved countless lives, built partnerships with 16 fire departments and served the 400-square-mile community around the hospital. In 1995, the town of Windham recognized the need for paramedic or advanced life support services in the Windham and...

Public Restroom

Is it Safe to Use a Public Bathroom During COVID-19?

As the country reopens, state by state, is there public trust in public restrooms? Put it this way: At last check, New York’s subway system had one bathroom per 53,000 riders. In Connecticut, public restrooms remain closed at most state parks. Elsewhere, will people change their hygiene habits when in...

COVID-19 Blood

Where to Get a COVID-19 Antibody Test, And Why

During the COVID-19 surge in Connecticut, diagnostic tests  performed with a nasal swab were critical in determining who had been infected with the coronavirus. Now, as the state’s economy reopens, a blood test is helping health professionals detect an immune response in people who were infected and also identify people were...

Depression

New: COVID-Related Behavioral Health Hotline

In any catastrophe, the medical needs must be tended first, followed by a wave of behavioral health issues that can last for months and years. The COVID-19 infection rate peaked in Connecticut at the end of April and now the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network (BHN) is preparing for increased demand...

Skin Cancer

If a Spot Looks Like This, it Could be Skin Cancer

The sun feels amazing on your face after a wet, dismal spring, but just a few moments of unprotected exposure can bring even more dismal consequences. During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Girish Mohan, director of cosmetic and laser dermatology with Hartford HealthCare Dermatology, wants to remind people that protecting...