According to new research from UCLA, scientists have been able to find out what it is that causes the genetic condition Fragile X Syndrome (FXS). The condition generally affects the sufferer’s intellectual ability and can cause seizures.
FXS causes damage to the brain’s synapses, or the connections between the neurons. This abnormal shaping of the synapses eventually translates into abnormal intellectual behavior such as autism and even seizures. For this research, the scientists used a mouse model of FXS and recorded the neuron activity in the mouse’s brain during sleep and waking times in the mouse. What they found was that whether awake or asleep, the neuronal networks were extremely active and fired too much and in sync — far more than a normal brain would.
This overexcitability may be what causes the symptoms in kids with FXS that can bring about seizures, disrupted sleep and learning problems. Should this study be confirmed, it may finally open doors to better treatments that could stop these behaviors. The study results are published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
“We wanted to find the link between the abnormal structure of synapses in the FXS mouse and the behavioral abnormalities at the level of brain circuits. That had not been previously established,” said senior author Dr. Carlos Portera-Cailliau, an associate professor in the departments of neurology and neurobiology at UCLA. “So we tested the signaling between different neurons in Fragile X mice and indeed found there was abnormally high firing of action potentials… and also abnormally high synchrony — that is, too many neurons fired together. That’s a feature that is common in early brain development, but not in the adult.”
“In essence, this points to a relative immaturity of brain circuits in FXS,” added Tiago Gonçalves, a former postdoctoral researcher in Portera-Cailliau’s laboratory and the first author of the study.
If this study can help prevent seizures in kids with FXS, it could prove groundbreaking in helping to keep the kids from taking anti-seizure medications like Topamax. Topamax has been linked to an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts as well as birth defects in women whose babies are exposed to the drug in-utero. Some of those birth defects linked to Topamax use during pregnancy include cleft lips, cleft palates, genital defects and other birth malformations.
If your baby was born with birth defects after in-utero exposure to Topamax, contact attorney Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am experienced at fighting Topamax lawsuits and may be able to help you recover money for your child’s injuries.