December 10, 2019

New Genetic Cause of Epilepsy Found

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Image credit: Dr Mark Bennett, Dr Haloom Rafehi and Professor Melanie Bahlo helped to identify two gene mutations that cause epilepsy.

Researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have contributed to a decades-long global effort that has revealed two new gene mutations that cause a rare type of epilepsy, familial adult myoclonic epilepsy.

The Institute research team also traced one genetic mutation back to its origin; an individual with the spontaneous mutation who lived more than 5000 years ago. The team developed technologies that can detect the specific mutations – called repeat expansions – even in small sample groups, and the tools to trace the ancestry of a mutation to its origin.

The discoveries were published in back-to-back papers in Nature Communications. Dr Mark Bennett, Dr Haloom Rafehi and Professor Melanie Bahlo from the Institute were part of the international consortium, which included clinicians, bioinformaticians and biologists from Australia, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

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