Researchers at the University of Helsinki showed that a change in the function of GABA, the main neurotransmitter in the brain, can cause the formation of incorrect connections between brain cells. These connections may cause epileptic seizures that are difficult to control with drugs.“After a prolonged convulsive seizure, instead of the usual inhibitory effect of the transmitter, GABA accelerates brain activity. This, in turn, creates new, harmful neural connections,” explained in a press release, Dr Claudio Rivera, the senior author of the study that was published in the scientific journal Annals of Neurology.According to the authors, the same harmful rewiring could be happening after a traumatic brain injury. This would explain why brain injury sometimes results in the onset of epilepsy.When the researchers blocked the activity of GABA with a drug called bumetanide soon after a seizure in a rat model, they saw that the number of convulsive seizures were decreased. Moreover, they saw that the number of harmful connections in the brain was significantly reduced, two months after the seizure.Bumetanide is a diuretic, or a drug that increases the passing of urine, which is already approved to be used in patients. Clinical research has shown that butenamide is also able to reduce or prevent convulsions. However, this is the first study showing that bumetanide has a long-term effect on the structure of the brain.“The next step is to study bumetanide both by itself and in combination with other clinically used drugs. We want to find out the ways in which it may offer additional benefits in the treatment of epilepsy in combination with and even in place of currently used antiepileptic drugs,” Dr Rivera concluded.Author: Dr Özge Özkaya