Stem Cells: a hope for epileptics

Epileptic seizures could be halted by injecting stem cells into the brain, scientists claim. Researchers have developed a new treatment, which involves converting skin cells into stem cells – which can turn into any type. 

The converted stem cells, designed to dampen down the effects of seizures, are then implanted back into the brain. The scientists behind the study, at Texas A&M University, aimed to boost the number of inhibitory cell to try and combat seizures.

They injected rats with a chemical, called clozapine-N-oxide, that triggered spontaneous seizures starting in the hippocampus – located in the middle part of the brain. 

Dr Dinesh Upadhya and colleagues then implanted inhibitory brain cells, called stem cell-derived GABA-ergic progenitor cells, into half of the rats and watched what happened. Five months later, the rats were having up to 70 per cent fewer seizures, compared to the rats who did not have the treatment. 

Dr Ashok Shetty, who was an author in the study, told MailOnline: ‘In other words, they can no longer fire action potentials. The methodology employed for silencing transplant-derived neurons in the current study is called chemogenetic approach.’

The implanted cells had survived in the hippocampus – a region usually associated with memory, dissections later showed. The treatment could be suitable for people whose seizures start in the hippocampus.  

SOURCE: www.dailymail.co.uk (01/2019)