Is it possible to prevent epilepsy following a brain injury?

Research has shown that between 10 & 20% of those who suffer a traumatic brain injury go on to develop epilepsy, but can this be avoided?

A team of researchers from the University of California think that it can.

They have made an exciting discovery, which will potentially prevent those who have suffered a severe brain injury from developing epilepsy, by utilising a drug that is currently prescribed for high blood pressure (hypertension).

Their research is based on the discovery that the wall of cells which line the veins and arteries in the brain, known as the “blood-brain barrier”, are breached after a trauma. This causes blood protein to leak in to the brain and this in turn, activates the brain’s support cells leading inflammation and eventually epileptic seizures.  Use of this blood pressure drug can block the brain’s support cells and stopping the inflammation that leads to epilepsy.

A study using rats demonstrated that seizures were prevented in 60% of cases and even those rats that still experienced seizures, did so at a greatly reduced rate.  Administering the drug for 3 weeks from the time of the injury, prevented most cases of epilepsy in the following months.

Co-author of the study Daniela Kaufer, associate Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of California,  commented, “This is the first ever approach in which epilepsy development is stopped, as opposed to common drugs that try to prevent seizures once epilepsy develops”.

Even though this research may come too late for many who have suffered a brain injury, such an important development is to be welcomed in the ongoing battle to reduce the impact of a brain injury on future patients.

Further information on the research undertaken by the University of California can be found here.

Epilepsy Society Blood Drug The Epilepsy Society also reported on this development, in the article Commonly Available Blood Pressure Drug Prevents Epilepsy, After Brain Injury.