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Possible link to enzyme levels in temporal lobe epilepsy investigated

19 February, 2004

A low level of an enzyme found in people with temporal lobe epilepsy
(TLE) may provide important clues to the cause of the condition, according
to a study at Yale University.

Writing in The
Lancet
, Dr Tore Eid, lead author of the study found
that patients with TLE are deficient in the enzyme glutamine synthetase.
The enzyme, found in a cell type in the brain known as an astrocyte,
transforms the neurotransmitter glutamate into the non-toxic chemical
glutamine. The enzyme is important because it helps remove glutamate
in the brain. High levels of glutamate can be very toxic but levels
of the enzyme was reduced by 40 per cent in people with TLE.

Dr Eid commented:

"We don't
know why glutamine synthetase is decreased in TLE, but this is something
we are exploring in our laboratory right now. We also want to see if we can stop the seizures and reduce
the brain damage in TLE by boosting the activity of glutamine synthetase.
If this turns out to be the case, then it is possible that glutamine
synthetase could be a new target for drug therapy against this important
and devastating disorder."