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Neuroscience: Seizing control of epilepsy with light

Nature Communications

January 23, 2013

Optogenetic modulation of excitatory and inhibitory neurons in a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy can stop seizures on a moment-to-moment basis reports a study in Nature Communications this week. The findings provide insight into an approach that may have potential for the development of interventions for treating this form of epilepsy that are less disruptive that those currently available.

Epilepsy comprises a number of distinct clinical disease entities, but can often involve recurrent, spontaneous seizures. In partial epilepsies, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, early seizure activity appears in a restricted region and may or may not progress to involve the entire brain or affect level of consciousness. There are currently no approved on-demand treatments for this and other types of epilepsy. Esther Krook-Magnuson and colleagues use a model of temporal lobe epilepsy in transgenic mice that express light-sensitive proteins known as opsins in different neurons of the brain. They find that spontaneous temporal lobe seizures can be detected by electroencephalography combined with customised computer software, and stopped by directly inhibiting and activating excitatory and inhibitory neurons respectively, in a spatially restricted manner.

Although these studies were carried out in mice, the authors hope that the work may provide a better alternative to the currently available electrical stimulation devices, which lack the specificity and efficiency of the studied approach.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms2376

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