Pioneering research into epilepsy

A breakthrough research using human brain tissue removed from people suffering from epilepsy has opened the door to new treatments from the disease.

Scientists from the Newcastle University have for the first time been able to record spontaneous epileptic activity in brain tissue which has been taken out from patients undergoing neurosurgery.

The research was led by Dr Mark Cunningham and suggests that in a particular type of brain wave pattern associated with epilepsy is caused by electrical connections in nerve cells in the brain- rather than chemical ones.

This means that the traditional drugs are useless and Dr Cunningham said that the findings marked a huge step forward in our understanding of a disease which affects an estimated 45 million people worldwide.

She said, "Until now we have only been able to mimic epilepsy using experimental animal models, but this can never give you a true picture of what is actually going on inside the human brain in epilepsy, our findings help us to understand what is going wrong and are an important step towards finding new epilepsy treatments in the future."