View Full Version : Channel Interaction Sheds Light On Epilepsy, Other Neurological Disorders

03-16-2006, 05:14 AM
(Philadelphia, PA) - Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered the mechanism that facilitates how two ion channels collaborate in the control of electrical signals in the brain. The investigators showed that the channels were anchored by a third protein at key locations on the nerve cell surface, allowing them to work together to set the timing and pattern of nerve impulses. They also found that this channel partnership mechanism is present in all vertebrates, but is lacking in invertebrates, suggesting that the coupling of these channels may be essential for the higher abilities of vertebrate brains. The elucidation of this novel interaction should aid efforts to develop new treatments for epileptic seizures, pain, and abnormal muscle movements. They report their findings in the cover article of the March 8 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

By understanding the relationship between potassium and sodium channels, Cooper and colleagues are working to create new treatments for neurological diseases based on reestablishing the type of nerve-cell impulse control seen in unaffected individuals. In fact, a new drug that acts by increasing the openings of these potassium channels is now undergoing U.S. and international trials for epilepsy, and such agents are also being developed for other neurological and psychiatric conditions.