The Epigenetics of Epilepsy

To better understand what may contribute to a diagnosis of epilepsy, we need to understand the epigenetics of epilepsy. Epigenetics is the study of genetic changes that are not caused by changes in the genetic code (DNA) itself. Instead, something is added to the genetic code (DNA) to change its function. Many epigenetic additions are important for development but can also play a role in disease. One of the most common additions is methylation, where a methyl group (a specific carbon compound) added to the DNA tells the genes whether they are active or not.

To better understand the epigenetics of epilepsy, Dr. Michael Poulter at Western University is collecting samples of brain tissue removed during seizure surgery from adult patients. He will compare the methylation of this unhealthy brain tissue to the methylation in brain tissue removed from people without epilepsy.

This research project will help to identify which genes may be turned off or on by methylation, which may play a role in how seizures develop. In the future, this research may also help create targeted treatments for epigenetic changes that are found within the brain tissue of people with epilepsy.


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