A new study is showing promise in preventing the development of epilepsy. Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, from the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans led a team that has created neuroprotective compounds that were able to prevent seizures in mice along with the damaging effects that they cause on dendritic spines. These dendritic spines allow communication between cells. When an individual has epilepsy these structures are not working correctly and create hyper-connected brain circuits and seizures.
According to Dr. Nicolas Bazan, the LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence’s director, the dendritic spines’ preservation and seizure protection were noted for up to 100 days after the treatment, which suggests the arresting of epilepsy development.
Professor Julio Alvarez-Builla Gomez, a University of Alcala medicinal chemist in Spain, worked with Dr. Bazan to discover and then patent the compounds. Together they studied a variety of LAU compounds that lessen hyper-excitability as well as the onset and susceptibility of seizures by blocking a neuroinflammatory signaling receptor.
Dr. Bazan concludes that the compounds and/or the mechanisms that these compounds target in the development of this condition need to be evaluated through clinical studies in the future. Right now the majority of anti-epileptic medicines don’t treat the disease but only the seizures. Gaining more understanding of the compounds and their potential could lead to treatments that would modify the disease for at-risk epilepsy patients.
Ongoing efforts by Dr. Bazan are aimed at understanding brain plasticity and its critical role in health as well as disease in strokes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, retinal degeneration, neurotrauma, aging and dyslexia.
The National Institutes of Health notes that epilepsies are brain disorders ranging from disabling and life-threatening to less severe. When there is a disturbance in the regular neuronal activity pattern, a number of situations can arise such as muscle spasms, convulsions, loss of consciousness as well as strange behavior, emotions and sensations. In many cases adult individuals and children with epilepsy can develop emotional and behavioral issues along with their seizures.
Problems also turn up due to the stigma that goes along with having epilepsy. Individuals may have to deal with bullying, frustration, teasing and embarrassment in social settings and at school. Restricted independence may also accompany this illness and in some states in the US a person that has epilepsy is not able to get a driver’s license or take part in certain recreational activities.
For many, epilepsy is a life-threatening condition and some have a higher risk of experiencing seizures that are prolonged or even an unexplained death that occurs suddenly. At present time there is no cure for this illness.
The findings were published online in Scientific Reports journal.