Sodium selenate could be used to slow the progression of epilepsy-causing changes in the brain, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Brain.The compound could one day even be used to prevent epilepsy that occurs as a result of head injury.Professor Terry O’Brien, a neurologist from the Royal Melbourne Hospital and senior author of the study, told ABC news: “What we think people could do is take sodium selenate, even potentially in a sports drink, before they go out to expose themselves to a risk of head injury such as in contact sports.”Following a head injury, in addition to immediate damage to the brain, a cascade of biochemical events occurs. One of these biochemical changes is a big increase in an abnormal form of a protein called tau, in the brain.Using rodent models, the team of researchers found that sodium selenate prevented the build-up of the abnormal tau protein in the brain, by targeting an enzyme called sodium phosphatase 2A.Sodium selenate has already been trialled in people with Alzheimer’s disease, because tau protein is also involved in neurodegeneration. It is hoped that it can soon be trialled in people with epilepsy too.Head injuries are one of the most common causes of lasting disability in young people. They can result in long-term progressive damage to the brain, including epilepsy.Current antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) only work by supressing seizures, but they do not address the underlying cause of epilepsy. In addition, around one third of people with epilepsy do not respond to current AEDs. Finding a treatment that can modify the disease process would therefore be invaluable and it has been the focus of much epilepsy research.Listen to the interview that Prof. O’Brian gave ABC’s Rachel Brown about the study.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here for more articles about other treatments for epilepsy.Click here for more articles about brain science including genetics.