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.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

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