Scientists with the Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC recently published a paper in Nature Reviews that exposes novel mechanisms by which glia, important brain support cells, may contribute to epilepsy offering ideas for novel treatment approaches. In the paper by post-doctoral associates Dipan C. Patel and Bhanu P. Tewari, lab coordinator Lata Chaunsali, and Neuroscience Executive Director Harald Sontheimer show that mechanisms by which glia, particularly astrocytes and microglia, may contribute to epilepsy and consequently could be harnessed therapeutically. 

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder afflicting roughly 65 million people worldwide. It is caused by aberrant synchronized firing of populations of neurons primarily due to imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission. Research during the past 20 years has focused on the role of glia in supporting and modulating neuronal activity, providing compelling evidence of glial involvement in the pathophysiology of epilepsy.


Work was completed in Sontheimer’s Center for Glial Biology Research in Roanoke.