Can seizures be predicted before they happen?

Washington: Scientists have discovered a pattern of molecules that appear in the blood before seizures, which may lead to the development of an early warning system for epilepsy patients.

FutureNeuro and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) researchers have discovered molecules in the blood that are higher in people with epilepsy before a seizure happens. These molecules are fragments of transfer RNAs (tRNAs), a chemical closely related to DNA that performs an important role in building proteins within the cell.

As per researchers involved in this study, which was published in the ‘Journal of Clinical Investigation’, tRNAs are cut into fragments when cells are stressed. Higher levels of the fragments in the blood could reflect that brain cells are under stress in the build-up to a seizure event.

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Using blood samples from people with epilepsy, the researchers found that fragment levels of three tRNAs “spike” in the blood many hours before a seizure.

“People with epilepsy often report that one of the most difficult aspects of living with the disease is never knowing when a seizure will occur,” said Dr Marion Hogg, FutureNeuro investigator, and the study’s lead author.

“The results of this study are very promising. We hope that our tRNA research will be a key first step toward developing an early warning system.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that more than 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy.

“New technologies to remove the unpredictability of uncontrolled seizures for people with epilepsy are a very real possibility,” said Professor David Henshall, Director of FutureNeuro and a co-author on the paper.


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