Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seizing Control of Brain Seizures

How can trauma lead to chronic seizures? Berkeley researcher Daniela Kaufer found that only when albumin in the blood breaches the blood-brain barrier does the likelihood of post-traumatic epilepsy go up. Accelerated signaling between neurons results from this exposure, leaduing to seizures. “We were surprised, even a little disappointed, that it was such a common component of the blood  – nothing exotic at all  – that led to epilepsy,” recalls Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology. She and colleagues went on to
Daniela Kaufer in the lab
show that albumin interacts with a ubiquitous cell protein TGF-Beta receptor to cause the damage. In the healthy brain, TGF-Beta signaling affects activity of astrocytes, which normally limit neuron-to-neuron firing signals across the synapse. But when albumin stimulates TGF-Beta receptors, astrocytes lose some of their control. Neuron signaling then spike dangerously, and promote the development of epileptic seizures. As luck would have it, statin drugs block TGF-Beta signaling.  Kaufer is now carrying out research to confirm that blocking abnormal TGF-Beta activity can prevent epilepsy from a range of insults. “Right now, if someone comes to the emergency room with traumatic brain injury, they have a 10 to 50 percent chance of developing epilepsy. But you don’t know which ones, nor do you have a way of preventing it. And epilepsy from brain injuries is the type most unresponsive to drugs." says Kaufer. “I’m very hopeful and that our research can spare these patients the added trauma of epilepsy.”

(Thanks to Dr. Doug "Scout" Shevlin for alerting me to this potentially groundbreaking research.)

Monday, February 17, 2014

New Edition of Robbins coming out in June 2014

9th Edition
A commenter asked when the next edition (9th) of "Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease" will be coming out. According to Amazon, the release date is June 16, 2014. I'm not sure yet what differencesin the CNS, muscle and nerve, and eye portions of the book there will be as compared to the current edition.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Best Post of October 2013: New Study Suggests "Glymphatic System" Flushes Brain of Toxins During Sleep

The next in our "Best of the Month Series comes from a post that appeared on October 22, 2013. Since this posting, The New York Times has picked up on this topic. Perhaps they read it here first? In any case, it's a post worth re-posting:

A new study published in the journal Science on Thursday and reported in the Washington Post suggests that a so-called "glymphatic system" seems capable of flushing toxins (including perhaps  beta-amyloid) from brain -- particularly during sleep.“Sleep puts the brain in another state where we clean out all the byproducts of activity during the daytime,” said study author and University of Rochester neurosurgeon Maiken Nedergaard.
(Thanks to avid NP Blog reader and friend, Dr. Doug Shevlin, for alerting me to this significant new finding.)