Genetics of the GABA-A Receptor in Epilepsy
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Jan Magielski
3w ago
GABA. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system. The main function of GABA is to reduce the excitability of neurons, which is the opposite of the excitatory glutamate that we described more extensively on our blog when talking about GRIN– and GRIA-related disorders. Many variants in GABA receptors are linked to epilepsy. Here, we will dive specifically into the genetics of the GABAA receptor. Figure 1. GABR genes encode the subunits of the GABAA receptor. After GABA binds to it, chloride ions are able to flow into the neuron. Created ..read more
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Epilepsy Genetics Spycraft, UGDH, and Mardi Gras
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Ingo Helbig (Kiel)
1M ago
The gene on your hand. We should never apologize for telling people about genetic epilepsies, we should apologize for not telling people enough about it. At the 2024 Mardi Gras celebration of the Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania, I had the honor of being given the Charley and Peggy Roach Founders’ & Eric Burton Osberg Award, also known as “Philadelphia Epilepsy Medical Professional of the Year”. I am quite sure that there must have been a data entry error or that the selection committee slipped in the line when they made this decision. Many of our epilepsy nurses, nurse practiti ..read more
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Disparity in Genomic Databases
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Priya Vaidiswaran
2M ago
Genomics. The use and importance of genomics in clinical research and practice has grown exponentially as the cost of acquiring human genomic sequences has continually decreased. Genetic variation can be inherited, acquired, or present at birth. Within the realm of inherited variants, the evolutionary history of humans can account for much of the genetic variation seen across different groups. Genomic research can help in identification of genomic loci or variants that are potentially associated with human diseases and, hence, also enable the development of precision medicine. However, account ..read more
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GRIN2A – this is what you need to know in 2023
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Amanda Back
7M ago
GRIN2A.  “Certainty” is a word that can only be used so often in epilepsy genetics—and GRIN2A has demonstrated a somewhat puzzling tension between “certainty” and “uncertainty”.  For example, the association between GRIN2A and focal/multifocal epilepsy with/without centrotemporal spikes, as well as risk for ESES, is well understood at this time.  Likewise, the relationship between speech disorders—a unique feature in neurodevelopmental disorders—and GRIN2A has been established.  However, as our knowledge of GRIN2A has expanded, our understanding of phenotype as it relates t ..read more
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Five reflections from the FamilieSCN2A Annual Family and Professional Conference
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Stacey Cohen
9M ago
FamilieSCN2A. On July 21-23, the FamilieSCN2A Foundation had their Family & Professional Conference in Boston. Having gone to the conference for the past several years, it is truly remarkable to see the changes over time. Here are five key changes I’ve noticed at this year’s event. Picture 1. Logo of the FamilieSCN2A Foundation. 1 – Clinical trial readiness. The SCN2A community, and the epilepsy genetics community in general, has long been ready for clinical trials. I mean this both in the sense that the families and scientists have been making sure that patient data are collected and or ..read more
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STARR, ESCO, and building the STXBP1 momentum
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Ingo Helbig
9M ago
Physics. When I tried to summarize the STXBP1 Summit in Colorado on my way back, I got stuck with the concept of momentum. Lots of things are happening in the world of STXBP1 disorders, but the most important thing is momentum, defined by Merriam-Webster as strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events. Buoyed by two natural history studies, STARR and ESCO, things are certainly in motion. Here are a few take-aways from the STXBP1 Summit. Perspective. As with many other blog posts about scientific meetings or conferences, let me state that this post is not meant to provide a comp ..read more
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Narrowing the phenotype gap through vector embedding
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Ingo Helbig
9M ago
Sparse data. Trying to match the growing body of genomic datasets with associated clinical data is difficult for a variety of reasons. Most importantly, while genomic data are standardized and can be generated at scale, clinical data are often unstructured and sparse, making it difficult to represent a phenotype fully through any type of abbreviated format. Quite frequently in our prior blog posts, we have discussed the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO), a standardized dictionary where all phenotypic features can be mapped and linked. But these data also quickly become large and the question on h ..read more
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STXBP1 and SYNGAP1 Natural History – Reflections after Day 1 of ENDD Clinic
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Sarah Ruggiero
10M ago
A big step forward. Disease natural history and clinical trial readiness are constantly discussed topics in the rare genetic epilepsy space. Additionally, these concepts have driven our work in the Helbig lab since the very beginning. So why then did last week’s launch of our group’s first prospective natural history study of STXBP1 and SYNGAP1 feel like such a monumental step forward? Last week, we evaluated our first participants in the prospective natural history study that is part of the newly established Center for Epilepsy and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ENDD), and here are some reflec ..read more
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Keto-Genetics
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Sarah Tefft
10M ago
Ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet (KD) has been formally used to treat epilepsy for the past 100 years. Its history of use dates to Hippocrates who realized that while people with epilepsy fasted their seizures improved. The ketogenic diet mimics a long-term fasting state by having the body enter ketosis with a high fat low carbohydrate + protein diet. Effectiveness of the ketogenic diet. KD has been tried across various genetic DEEs. By comparing it against other treatment options, we can assess how effective KD is in different conditions. When looking at individuals with disease-causing va ..read more
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Gene-based therapies: overview and application to chromosome 15q
Beyond the Ion Channel | The ILAE Genetics Commission Blog
by Alexis Karlin
10M ago
Precision therapeutics. Ongoing research in precision therapies in neurological disorders, including 15q-related disorders, is occurring in three spaces: 1) gene therapy, 2) anti-sense oligonucleotides (ASOs), and 3) small molecules (repurposing existing drugs or generating new drugs), where the latter is primarily focused on addressing the symptoms of genetic disorders (i.e. seizures) rather than the cause (i.e gene dysfunction). Each of these forms of therapy has particular challenges, including, critically, the delivery method. The blood-brain barrier (doing its job well) restricts the acce ..read more
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