A new study published in the July 15 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience reported that researchers from UC Berkeley, California (UCB) and Ben Gurion University (BGU) discovered a treatment to prevent the development of post brain-damage epilepsy in rats.
The team of researchers built their hypothesis on earlier award winning studies, performed by Alon Friedman and Daniela Kaufer at The Hebrew University, which determined that breaches of the blood-brain barrier are the cause of epilepsy in patients who have sustained traumatic brain injuries.
The current study was conducted by first inducing epilepsy in rats by breaching the blood-brain barrier with serum albumin, which not only triggers the expression of latent genes that diminish the brain’s ability to prevent inflammation and inhibition of the firing of neurons, but also binds to transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) receptors.
The earlier research demonstrated a correlation between epilepsy and the uninhibited firing of neurons after the blood-brain barrier had been breached. After initiating the breach of the protective blood-brain barrier, the scientists used drugs to block the TGF beta pathways, thereby preventing the physiological chain reaction that leads to epilepsy.
This research holds promise for reducing symptoms and preventing further brain damage in patients with persistent epilepsy, including that which results from a traumatic brain injury.