New Dog Gene May Shed Light on Childhood Epilepsy

Researchers hope the discovery will aid understanding of human brain development

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FRIDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- An epilepsy gene, called LGI2, has been found in Lagotto Romagnolos -- a specific breed of dog known for truffle hunting, according to a new study.

Researchers say the newly identified gene has enabled the development of a DNA test for these dogs. The gene discovery is also significant for humans, providing new perspective on the development of a child's brain and the remission mechanisms in childhood epilepsies, they added.

The findings were published in the July 28 online edition of PLoS Genetics.

An epileptic seizure is caused by an electronic disturbance in brain function. Childhood epilepsies, in particular, are characterized by remission (the seizures begin and last for a while before they disappear completely). The mechanisms behind the remissions, however, have largely remained a mystery, the authors noted in a University of Helsinki news release.

Although not previously linked to human epilepsies, in conducting the study, the investigators found the gene is a new candidate gene for childhood epilepsy.

The findings provide insight on the pathways and mechanisms that control the development of a child's brain, optimizing its structure for electrical stability into adulthood, the study authors pointed out.

The researchers concluded that their findings will help uncover the molecular bases of the brain's transformation from its immature state in infancy to its full potential in early adulthood, the study's senior co-author Dr. Berge Minassian, senior scientist and pediatric epileptologist at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, noted in the news release.

More information

The Epilepsy Foundation has more about childhood epilepsy.

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