Researchers at the University of Colorado have identified a new biomarker that could predict the onset and progression of seizures associated with epilepsy.Biomarkers are substances found in the blood or urine that can indicate a biological state or a medical condition. They are invaluable in helping clinicians diagnose or predict the progression of a condition and measure how well the body responds to a certain treatment.The study, published in the scientific journal Redox Biology, suggests that the ratio of two forms of an amino acid (building blocks of proteins) called cysteine could be used as a reliable biomarker to predict the onset or progression of epileptic seizures.Dr Manisha Patel and Dr Li-Ping showed that the levels of cysteine decreased by 42% and 62% respectively in two different rat models of epilepsy, whilst the levels of cystine, the oxidised form of the amino acid, increased by 46% and 23% respectively. When the scientists treated the animals with an antioxidant, the decrease in the cysteine/cystine ratio was abolished.The researchers concluded that the ratio of cysteine/cystine could be a reliable measure of epilepsy.In a press release, Dr Patel said: “Currently the field of epilepsy lacks peripheral blood-based biomarkers that could predict the onset or progression of chronic seizures following an epileptogenic injury. We are confident that this study is a significant step toward changing this, and will one day help those living with temporal lobe epilepsy.”Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here for more articles about brain science including genetics.