Research Digest

Lab notes: Scientists find a protein key to epilepsy treatment

About 30% of epilepsy patients do not respond to existing medication.

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain and the most common serious neurological disorder that affects about 50 million people worldwide. About 70% of those with epilepsy respond to existing treatment with drugs that have been developed for the disease for the past 30 years. That means, that the remaining 30% o not become free of epileptic seizures even if given these medicines.

The causes of epilepsy, which is the continued presence of seizures, still remain something of the mystery. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests local inflammation of the brain is linked to seizures. Inflammation is an immune response to injury and in most cases of inflammation settles down after a period of time. In some patients, inflammation does not settle down and might provoke continued seizures.

Scientists from the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with the Mario Negri Institute in Milan, have now identified a protein that acts as a marker to for whether there is inflammation in the brain. The researchers were looking for ways to spot such inflammation using blood samplesand focused on a protein called high mobility group box-1 or HMGB1, which exists in different forms – called isoforms – in tissues and the bloodstream.

Their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed a persistent increase in HMGB1 isoforms in patients with newly-diagnosed epilepsy and who had continuing seizure activity despite anti-epileptic drug therapy. There was no such increase in isoforms in patients whose fits were controlled. An accompanying drug study showed that HMGB1 isoforms may predict whether an epilepsy patient will respond to anti-inflammatory drugs. The researchers say their initial findings indicate the need for evaluation in larger-scale trials but could be the start of personalised medical treatment for epilepsy.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.


To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.