Pentagon funds 3-year study to find causes of post-traumatic epilepsy

U.S. Army private lifts a 155mm round weighing about 100 pounds at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in central Indiana on Nov. 4, 2010. Futrell and soldiers assigned to his Indiana National Guard unit fired the round from an M777 Howitzer, which was recently issued to the Indiana Guard.

Image: U.S. Department of Defense

A Texas A&M researcher and his collaborators have received a three-year, nearly $750,000 federal grant to identify underlying causes of post-traumatic epilepsy.

Samba Reddy, a professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Experimental Therapeutics, College of Medicine, will take part in a study of the targeted molecular and epigenetic mechanisms that underlie post-traumatic epilepsy, also known as PTE.

The affliction is often caused by traumatic brain injury, a leading cause of disability among service members and veterans. The research grant comes from the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of the Army.

Up to 50 percent of people with traumatic brain injury develop spontaneous seizures a few months or even a few years later. Those with penetrating brain injury, which is often seen among veterans, may be especially susceptible. “PTE is a devastating brain disease characterized by repeated seizures that are often medically-uncontrollable,” Reddy said. “Because there is physical trauma in the brain, many of our medications to stop seizures simply don’t work in these cases.”

Although there has been some research that indicates the immune system is causing post-traumatic epilepsy, the mechanism is not well understood. That’s what Reddy’s work hopes to change.

Using experimental models, Reddy will test whether blocking a certain pathway in the brain can interrupt the process that causes post-traumatic epilepsy.

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