Breakthroughs

Among the recent developments in the field of epilepsy, neuroscientists have been successful in creating a fiber-optic method of controlling epileptic seizures. According to a report presented this year in January 24, UC Irvine neuroscientists have come up with a means of controlling seizures caused due to epilepsy with fiber-optic light signals, bringing about a fresh prospect of treating the most severe condition of the brain disorder.

Making use of a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, Ivan Soltesz, Chancellor’s Professor as well as chair of anatomy & neurobiology, along with his colleagues produced an EEG-based computer system, which triggers hair-thin optical strands implanted in the brain when it detects a real-time seizure. The fibers then “turn on” specially designed, light-sensitive proteins known as opsins that either stimulates or inhibit particular neurons in select brain areas during seizures, depending on the kind of opsin. The physicians could notice that with this procedure it was possible to control ongoing electrical seizure activity as well as diminish the occurrence of severe “tonic-clonic” events.

In the words of Soltesz, “This approach is useful for understanding how seizures occur and how they can be stopped experimentally. In addition, clinical efforts that affect a minimum number of cells and only at the time of a seizure may someday overcome many of the side effects and limitations of currently available treatment options.”

Today almost 3 million Americans are experiencing epileptic conditions, a repeated spontaneous seizure that happens erratically, even causing loss of consciousness, and can prevent usual activities like driving or other similar kind of work. It has been noticed that at least 40 percent of the patients do not respond to medications with existing drugs and their seizures cannot be controlled and those conditions in which the seizures can be controlled to certain extent, the medications can have severe side effects.

Soltesz further said that even if the experiment was conducted on mice and not yet on the humans, the procedure can show the way to a better option to the presently available electrical stimulation devices.


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