May 26, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Zebrafish And Roundworm Genes: Missing Links In The Cure For Drug Resistant Epilepsy, Scientists Found

Apr 01, 2017 08:09 AM EDT

Fish and worm genes might have a fighting chance to combat epilepsy. Scientists have been keeping an eye to the option through genetics that will eventually lead to the development of drugs that will cure drug-resistant epilepsy.

According to The Conversation, ever since the discovery of faulty genes in 1995, scientists expanded their knowledge about the disorder through research in other mutations. New DNA manipulation techniques are being used to create animal models. The faulty genes implanted to the animal and used the animal to test new drugs to treat epilepsy.

However, there are many ethical issues that affect this kind of process and it seems expensive and tricky as well. Scientists and researchers opted to a simpler organism that instead of pursuing rodents in studying epilepsy, they use round worms and zebra fish.

Both of these organisms are well understood by scientists. Every cell in of the roundworm has been already known and mapped since its transparency and its fluorescent proteins allow researchers to visualize almost every cell type. Likewise, both roundworms and zebrafish produce a vast number of offspring, when all combined, creates a powerful testing tool for epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder characterized by recurrent and unprovoked seizures. Per Epilepsy Foundation, people may have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological disorder. ECG testing, clinical history, family history, and outlook are similar among a group of people with epilepsy.

Symptoms of seizure from epilepsy may affect any part of the body are the electrical events produced by the brain. The location of the event such as how it spreads and how much of the brain is affected, and how long will it last are all profound effects.

Since roundworm and zebrafish have (40 percent and 89 percent respectively) similar DNA to humans, using DNA manipulation techniques like CRISPR-Cas9, are made easier. The enzyme can be guided to remove and replace regions of the DNA which can mimic similar mutations that can be created by the faulty genes of the human DNA that causes epilepsy.

Researchers find it easier to study epilepsy or how the mutations interfere with the animals normal functioning using simple organisms without a background noise. This has been proven from the previous study of how difficult to manage a research with characterized epilepsy syndromes such as lissencephaly - brain malformation that causes seizures.

With rapidly providing a large amount of functional information before progressing into animal testing, simple organisms such as roundworms and zebrafish could reduce the cost of animal research. Likewise, using these animal models as a frontline screening tool for the effects of epilepsy, the research may save time, effort and money in drug development.

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