More than two million people in the United States suffer from epilepsies, a group of neurological disorders caused by abnormal nerve cell firing in the brain which often produce debilitating seizures. Although anti-epileptic drugs and other therapies reduce seizures in about two-thirds of patients, the remaining one-third do not respond to any form of therapy and those who take drugs can experience harmful side effects. NIH funded researchers at the University of California at San Francisco used a mouse model of epilepsy to show that transplanting new born inhibitory nerve cells can quiet seizures. Inhibitory cells are one of two major nerve cell groups, the other being excitatory. Their results, published in Nature Neuroscience, show that injecting new inhibitory cells into the hippocampus in the brains of adult epileptic mice greatly reduced the occurrence of seizures and reversed some learning and memory problems associated with the disorder. Analysis of the mice brains suggested the new cells became fully incorporated into the brain regions where they were injected. The results support the idea that cell therapies may provide precise and novel ways to treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders.
This study was supported by grants from NINDS (NS071785, NS077747) and a grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (#TR2-01749).
Hunt et al. "GABA progenitor grafted into the adult epileptic brain control seizures and abnormal behavior" Nature Neuroscience, May 5, 2013. DOI: 10.1038/nn.3392
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