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03 August 2009 by Colin Barras

Epilepsy may be sparked by a metal imbalance in the brain caused by a single gene mutation, a study in mice suggests. The finding could help develop new treatments in humans who suffer from the condition.

Steven Clapcote‘s team at the University of Leeds, UK, pinpointed a gene that seems to play an important part in the genesis of epileptic seizures, which result from abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain and can occur even when there is no underlying neurological condition.

The Atp1a3 gene is one of three that produce a chemical pump mechanism to keep sodium and potassium levels in brain nerve cells and the surrounding tissue at the levels needed for normal activity.

“It’s been known for a long time that injecting the sodium/potassium pump inhibitor ouabain into the brain can induce seizures in rats,” says Clapcote, and it’s also known that mice lacking two of three forms of the pump – either the “alpha1” or “alpha2” forms – are free from seizures.

Read Article in Full: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17549-dostoevsky-mice-cured-of-epilepsy.html



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