Feb 22, 2019 | Updated: 08:52 AM EST

Researchers From The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Discover A Micro-Gene That Protects Brain From Epilepsy

Jun 06, 2017 04:43 AM EDT


The neuroscientist was intrigued by an incident in Japan in December 1997, when hundreds of children were hospitalized due to a seizure similar to epilepsy. The research discovered a micro-gene that protect brains from developing epilepsy.

Professor of the Molecular Neuroscience from the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Hermona Soreq was interested in analyzing the cause of the epileptic-like seizure in hundreds of Japanese children. Their seizure was triggered by five seconds of intensely bright flashing lights on the popular TV program "Pokemon" which did not affect adults. Her hypothesis is that the adult has a specific micro-gene that protect brains from seizure.

Professor Soreq and her colleague were able to determine the micro-gene that protect brains, called microRNAs (miRs), a class of non-coding RNAs that can prevent genes from expressing particular proteins. Their research has been published in the  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences with a title "Dynamic Changes In Murine Forebrain miR-211 Expression Associate With Cholinergic Imbalances And Epileptiform Activity." Her colleagues for the research are Dan Z. Milikovsky, Daniel Zelig and Liron Sheintuch from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, also Alon Friedman from the Dalhousie University in Canada.

In her previous research, as reported by Jerusalem Post, Professor Soreq has discovered that a healthy brain is able to produce miRs molecule rapidly. The miRs is suggested as a micro-gene that protect brains from seizure.

“Dynamic changes in the amount of miR-211 in the forebrains of these mice shifted the threshold for spontaneous and pharmacologically induced seizures," Professor said explaining the micro-gene that protect brains. “It is important to discover how only some people’s brains present a susceptibility to seizures."

The research with the mouse found that the engineered mice with suppressed miRs have a higher potential of epilepsy and hypersensitivity to epilepsy-inducing compounds. This result explained that miRs is a micro-gene that protect brains from the epileptic seizure. Below is the episode from the "Pokemon" cartoon that triggered a seizure in hundreds of children in Japan 20 years ago:

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