Researchers Discover Part of Brain Responsible for Seizures
For those who suffer from seizures, a cure may soon be as simple as turning on a light. Researchers at Stanford and Curie University in France have discovered that a part of the brain, called the thalamus, is essential for continuing seizures. They then found a way to alter DNA in rats to stop thalamus cells from communicating during a seizue by using focused light, which stopped the seizure immediately.
As Emily Willingham reports for MIT’s Technology Review, a light sensitive protein was inserted into epileptic lab rats, which would stop thalamus cells from communicating when activated by light. This creates many possibilities in how to treat epileptic seizures, some of which can simply build on treatments already being used.
Since this particular study used genetic alterations, however, the application for this treatment in humans is questionable. At the very least, it is likely a long way off. But, knowing precisely what part of the brain to target to limit and prevent seizures is valuable knowledge in fighting them.