Scientists at Louisiana State University, and at Spain’s University of Alcala, have developed compounds that can prevent seizures in a rodent model of epilepsy. They believe that so-called ‘neuroprotective’ compounds like these may also prevent epilepsy in humans in the future.In earlier work, the team screened a range of compounds that block a specific inflammatory molecule in neurons, and discovered that one in particular, LAU-0901, stopped seizures in epilepsy models. In the current study they focused on LAU-0901, and a more refined version of it known as LAU-09021, to try and find out exactly how they work.They found that the compounds’ actions preserved dendritic spines, which are vital to communication between neurons. Dendritic spines are damaged during seizures and other ‘insults’, causing a chain of events that make neurons hyperexcitable, which promotes the development of epilepsy. The team discovered that the animals were still protected from seizures up to 100 days after treatment with LAU-09021, suggesting that the process of epilepsy development had been arrested.These findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, indicate that, in the future, new therapies that preserve dendritic spines could potentially stop seizures and prevent the development of epilepsy.Senior Author Dr Nicolas Bazan, at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, said: “Most of the anti-epileptic drugs currently available treat the symptom – seizures – not the disease itself. Understanding the potential therapeutic usefulness of compounds that may interrupt the development process may pave the way for disease-modifying treatments for patients at risk for epilepsy.”Click here for more articles about brain science including genetics.