As the name indicates, focal (or partial) seizures involve an electrical storm affecting only a part of the brain. Such seizures may remain localized or spread to other parts of the cerebral cortex. The temporal lobes, one on each side of the head just above the ears, are the brain sites of one of the most common forms of epilepsy involving focal seizures.
"Epilepsy afflicts approximately 1 percent of the U.S. population. A large proportion of epileptic adults have temporal lobe epilepsy, which is often very difficult to treat, and for about 30 percent of those individuals the only treatment option is surgery," said study co-author Dr. Thomas J. McCown, associate professor of psychiatry in UNC's School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Gene Therapy Center. That option is surgical resection, or removal of abnormal brain tissue at the site linked to the seizures. However, despite resection, only 50 percent to 60 percent of temporal lobe epilepsy patients improve following the surgery.
In the new research, McCown and his Gene Therapy Center colleagues Rebecca Haberman, a post-doctoral fellow, and Dr. R. Jude Samulski, center director and professor of pharmacology, used a novel strategy to make laboratory rats less sensitive to experimentally induced focal seizures.
The researchers used an altered adeno-associated virus, or AAV, to deliver into the animals' brain cells a coded sequence for the production of galanin, a neuroactive peptide known to suppr
Contact: Leslie Lang
University of North Carolina School of Medicine