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UI study finds potential genetic link between epilepsy and neurodegenerative disorders
Date:7/22/2014

s in the prickle mutant flies," says Manak, faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs in Genetics, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Health Informatics. "We were able to use two independent assays to show that we could suppress the seizures, effectively 'curing' the flies of their epileptic behaviors."

Genetic link between epilepsy and Alzheimer's

This new epilepsy pathway was previously shown to be involved in neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Manak and his colleagues note that two Alzheimer's-associated proteins, amyloid precursor protein and presenilin, are components of the same vesicle, and mutations in the genes encoding these proteins in flies affect vesicle transport in ways that are strikingly similar to how transport is impacted in prickle mutants.

"We are particularly excited because we may have stumbled upon one of the key genetic links between epilepsy and Alzheimer's, since both disorders are converging on the same pathway," Manak says. "This is not such a crazy idea. In fact, Dr. Jeff Noebels, a leading epilepsy researcher, has presented compelling evidence suggesting a link between these disorders. Indeed, patients with inherited forms of Alzheimer's disease also present with epilepsy, and this has been documented in a number of published studies."

Manak adds, "If this connection is real, then drugs that have been developed to treat neurodegenerative disorders could potentially be screened for anti-seizure properties, and vice versa."

Manak's future research will involve treating seizure-prone flies with such drugs to see if he can suppress their seizures.


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Contact: Gary Galluzzo
gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu
319-384-0009
University of Iowa
Source:Eurekalert

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