Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, along with clinicians at Beaumont Hospital and experts from Madrid’s Cajal Institute, believe they have discovered a new gene class which could be instrumental in the prevention of epileptic seizures. reports that the team of researchers have discovered a new gene class called MicroRNA. This particular gene, specifically MicroRNA-13, is more abundant in the part of the brain that triggers epileptic seizures.

Professor David C Henshall, the senior author of the research, and member of the Department of Physiology and Medical Physics at the RCSI, said: “We have been looking to find what goes wrong inside brain cells to trigger epilepsy. Our research has discovered a completely new gene linked to epilepsy and it shows how we can target this gene using drug-like molecules to reduce the brain’s susceptibility to seizures and the frequency in which they occur.”

The researchers’ work was published in Nature Medicine medical journal and outlines the steps in which new drug therapies could work with the gene in order to prevent epileptic seizures.

As explained in their paper, the researchers used a new type of drug-like molecule called antagomir which seems to lock onto the microRNA-13 gene and remove it from the brain cell, thus preventing the seizures.
goes on to report that approximately 37,000 people in Ireland are affected by epilepsy, with one in three of that population still suffering despite being prescribed medication.