Researchers at Tel Aviv University have found that a drug used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis can be adapted to help patients with epilepsy.
The development is significant because 30-40 percent of patients with epilepsy do not respond to the pharmaceutical treatments available today, particularly children with a rare and severe form of the disease called Dravet's Syndrome, a university statement said on Monday.
The findings of the team headed by Prof. Inna Slutsky of the School of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience were published Monday in the scientific journal Neuron.
The discovery came from a breakthrough in what researchers call a "centennial puzzle" that has confounded scientists trying to determine the mechanism that regulates and ensures the stability of brain activity.
Although the causes of most forms of epilepsy are unknown, scientists know that epileptic seizures result from excessive and abnormal neuronal activity in the brain.
The researchers said their findings could serve as a basis for drug development for a number of diseases that are characterized by instability of brain activity.
"The instability of neural activity in various parts of the brain is a major element in a wide range of brain disorders, including epilepsy, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's," said Slutsky.
Slutsky's team found that the DHODH gene is the key to triggering brain activity, and the drug Teriflunomide, used in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, had an inhibitory effect on neural activity.
When researcher Boaz Styr left the drug with brain cells for an extended period, the lowest level of activity became permanent. The team then investigated and found that they could reduce the accelerated brain activity that plagues those with epilepsy.
"We have discovered a new mechanism responsible for regulating brain activity in the hippocampus, which can serve as a basis for the future development of effective drugs for epilepsy," Slutsky concluded.
They hope the discovery will help people with Dravet's Syndrome.
The Dravet Syndrome Foundation describes the disease as "a rare, catastrophic, lifelong epileptic form that begins in the first year of life with frequent and / or prolonged seizures." Patients with Dravet Syndrome require constant care and there is a severe impact on the quality of the disease. life, with patients experiencing a mortality rate of 15% -20% due to complications.