10 Nov 2016

New Finding - Moss Compound Huperzine A Might Protect Against Seizures

  • Epilepsy = brain problem affecting ~1% of people - they have seizures every so often - drugs can help but don't always work or cause bad side effects
  • SCN1A = gene in brain cells (neurons) that tells them how to put together a protein (part of a voltage-gated sodium channel) they need to communicate with one another - mutations in this gene can cause certain forms of epilepsy (one of which is known as Dravet syndrome)
  • Huperzine A = compound found in the club moss Huperzia serrata - can enter the brain and mess with an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, altering how much of a particular brain signal (acetylcholine) is present - there is some evidence the compound can help with brain problems such as dementia and schizophrenia
  • Researchers, using mice made to have epilepsy by intentionally mutating their SCN1A gene, showed that giving them a bit of huperzine A makes them less likely to have seizures (when treated in a way known to cause them)
  • Huperzine A might eventually be a useful drug for people with epilepsy
Frontiers in Pharmacology - Huperzine A Provides Robust and Sustained Protection against Induced Seizures in Scn1a Mutant Mice

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