Irish scientists have made a breakthrough that could lead to the development of an early warning system for people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition, characterized by a tendency to have repeated seizures. Up to 40,000 people in Ireland are affected. This discovery would allow those affected to know when they are at risk of having a seizure.
The research was conducted by scientists at FutureNeuro, an important neurological research center based at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). They have discovered molecules in the blood that are higher in people before a seizure happens.
Molecules are fragments of transfer RNAs (tRNAs), a chemical closely related to DNA. It plays an important role in building proteins inside the cell. When the cells are stressed, the tRNAs are cut into fragments. Researchers believe that higher levels of these fragments in the blood may reflect brain cells under stress during a seizure event.
They used blood samples from people with epilepsy at the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and at a similar specialized center in Marburg, Germany. They found that the levels of fragments of three tRNAs "rise" in the blood many hours before a seizure.
"People with epilepsy often report that one of the most difficult aspects of coexisting with the disease is never knowing when a seizure will occur. early warning system, "explained lead study author Dr. Marion Hogg, FutureNeuro researcher and honorary professor at RCSI.
About one third of people with epilepsy in Ireland do not respond to current treatments, so they continue to experience seizures. This can have a major impact on your quality of life.
"New technologies to remove the unpredictability of uncontrolled attacks for people with epilepsy are a very real possibility," commented co-author Prof. David Henshall, director of FutureNeuro and professor of molecular physiology and neuroscience at RCSI.
He said that based on this research, the FutureNeuro team hopes to develop "a test prototype, similar to a blood glucose monitor that can predict when a seizure can occur."
A video of the researchers explaining their work can be seen On here.
* In the photo is the lead author of the study, Dr. Marion Hogg
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