Although a fully-formed artificial brain is still a long way off, scientists have found that they can assemble stem cells into ‘brain-like chunks of tissue’. Stem cells are cells that can change into any kind of cell in a living organism. This development could one day help scientists to develop new drugs to treat conditions like epilepsy.
Stories about research
Huge studies into the genetic causes of epilepsy have started to produce results. The US-led studies, called EPGP and Epi4K, involve 150 scientists working in 40 institutions over three continents. The studies have discovered 25 new mutations on nine key genes that are behind some severe childhood epilepsies. Among those were two genes never before linked to this kind of epilepsy. Scientists hope that the studies will lead to a way to test newborn babies for the risk of developing epilepsy – and help develop precise drug treatments.
After a stroke, statistics show that some people are more likely to develop epilepsy, while some are not. It is not fully understood why this is. Now a new study hopes to help with this. This means that people who have had a stroke could receive early epilepsy treatment if necessary.
Every year around 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke. It is the most common cause of epilepsy in people over the age of 60. A stroke can cause brain injury because of bleeding or blockage of the blood supply. When a stroke happens, it can cause a seizure at the site of the damage. Seizures can also develop later.
According to reports at a recent epilepsy conference, a new surgical technique could ‘revolutionise’ surgery to cure epilepsy. Stereotactic laser ablation of the hippocampus (SLAH) may result in increased seizure freedom. The surgery is also less risky, new studies show.
“I believe this technique can revolutionise how we approach brain surgery, as long as it continues to prove safe and shows adequate efficacy for seizure control,” study investigator, Daniel Drane, PhD, told Medscape Medical News at the 30th International Epilepsy Conference in Montreal, Canada.
Surgeons have been working on a new surgical technique for people with severe epilepsy. The technique has been used for a few years. Now a research study has shown that it is safe to use and produces good results.