Coming Down the Pike: Treating Epilepsy

Mar 02, 2009
Scientists studying epilepsy have traditionally focused on the comings and goings of ions through molecular channels in nerve cells, and many current antiseizure therapies seek to modulate that dynamic. However, some people don't respond to channel-based therapies, causing scientists to look further for other molecular activities to target therapeutically in epilepsy management. A recent report suggests they may have found one.A paper published in Nature Medicine points to a possible inflammatory interaction between white blood cells and blood-vessel walls that appears to damage the barrier that prevents unwanted substances from flowing into or out of the brain, the so-called blood–brain barrier.The researchers found an increase in "sticky" adhesion molecules on both white blood cells and on the cells lining the blood vessels in the brain of mice in whom epileptic-like seizures had been induced. This interaction, they proposed, might be therapeutically blocked by monoclonal antibodies, thus reducing the severity and incidence of seizures.Source: P.F. Pabene et al., "A Role for Leukocyte–Endothelial Adhesion Mechanisms in Epilepsy," Nature Medicine 14, 1377–1383 (2008).