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Unlocking the secrets of epilepsy genetics

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    What are the genetic factors behind epilepsy and how does it develop?

    By taking a ‘systems genetics’ approach to answering these questions, researchers from Imperial College London and UCB have identified networks of genes that may govern epilepsy, memory and perhaps even intelligence.

    A new paper published in the journal Nature Neuroscience reports that two networks of highly connected genes may be the key to understanding the complex way in which the brain functions.

    These networks may be controlled by a common ‘master’ system that influences some of the traits that set humans apart from other species.

    The new paper is already having an impact. It has been widely reported by the media and is among the top-ranked papers of its kind.

    This is just the latest outcome of our collaboration with Imperial College. Last year, Nature Communication a high-impact research journal, published findings from the same research team showing that a single gene coordinates a network of around 400 genes involved in epilepsy.

    Our work in this area continues to deliver new insights into molecular and genetic underpinnings of neuro-
    developmental diseases. Ultimately, this could help us to find drug targets. Perhaps we could identify molecular switches that control the networks of genes we have identified.

    We move forward with many more questions to answer but with a sense of real excitement about the discoveries that may lie ahead.

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