Potential epilepsy treatment developed
Specialists at 11 research institutes have come up with an innovation that could benefit epilepsy patients.
A team including the University of Lincoln’s Dr Enrico Ferrari has successfully developed a bio-therapeutic molecule that might be used in treatments for various conditions.
People with chronic pain could be among those to benefit if the molecule can be practically applied, as well as those with epilepsy.
Dr Enrico Ferrari, a lead author of the study at the University of Lincoln, commented: “Many painkillers relieve the pain temporarily and have various side-effects.
“The selling point of this molecule is that the pain relief could last up to seven months, in a similar way that Botox injections for removing wrinkles last for several months.”
Researchers separated elements of two toxins – clostridium botulinum and clostridium tetani neurotoxins – and produced a model to join the molecule proteins back together in a way that allowed unwanted toxic effects to be dispensed with.
Dr Ferrari said that when the toxins were split, they were unable to function, yet capable of operating in a safe way when they had been reassembled later on.
He noted that the “re-engineered chimera toxin has very similar characteristics to Botox and is still able to block neurotransmission release”.
However, he pointed out that the paralytic effect is reduced significantly. Dr Ferrari also stated that a tetanus molecule was added in order to target the chimera to “where the pain signals travel towards the central nervous system”.
The findings pave the way for researchers to develop a method of combining more than two protein elements together in a particular order so it can have more possible clinical applications.
According to figures from the NHS, more than half a million people in the UK are currently affected by epilepsy. This works out to almost one in 100 Britons.
The health service points out that while in most cases epilepsy begins during a person’s childhood, signs of the condition can start to emerge at any age.