New study discovers pervasive RNA changes in the epileptic brain
Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder afflicting over 60 million people worldwide. The disorder is characterised by a tendency to have recurring, unprovoked seizures, and can cause other health problems. While seizures can be in part controlled by medication, there is currently no effective cure for epilepsy. More fundamental research is needed to better understand the disorder and to identify treatment targets.
DNA is a molecule that carries the genetic instructions used in the growth and function of all living organisms, while RNA is a molecule that, amongst other functions, is essential for the transmission and use of these genetic instructions. Both DNA and RNA are essential for all known forms of life.
Currently, most of the research in epilepsy is focused on mutations and variations in the DNA. However, other types of variations might occur specifically in the RNA, which is a process called RNA editing. Hence, it may be important to examine both DNA and RNA variations in epilepsy. This new research shifts the focus from solely analysing DNA, to analysing RNA editing in the epileptic brain.
In a study published in Genome Research, Duke-NUS Medical School’s (Duke-NUS) Associate Professor Enrico Petretto examined the role of RNA editing in the brain and discovered a new disease mechanism for epilepsy. The study’s findings breathe new life into the field of RNA editing research and therapy development for epilepsy.