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Enzyme linked to epilepsy

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2004 - Summer

Contents

Small amounts of glutamate help the brain to function normally, but high concentrations of the neurotransmitter have been linked to temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), a common form of epilepsy that is frequently drug-resistant.

A Yale study published in The Lancet has found that people with TLE also have low levels of glutamine synthetase, an enzyme that transforms glutamate into the non-toxic chemical glutamine.

“We don’t know why glutamine synthetase is decreased in TLE, but this is something we are exploring in our laboratory right now,” said lead author Tore Eid, M.D., Ph.D., an associate research scientist in the laboratory of Nihal C. de Lanerolle, D.Phil., associate professor of neurosurgery and neurobiology. “We also want to see if we can stop the seizures and reduce the brain damage in TLE by boosting the activity of glutamine synthetase.” If this turns out to be the case, Eid added, then it is possible that glutamine synthetase could be a new target for drug therapy.