March 15, 2002
Volume XXXV, No. 11

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$40,000 grant supports epilepsy research

PHOTO SHAPIRO

The National Epilepsy Foundation has awarded Dr. Mark S. Shapiro, professor of physiology, a $40,000 research grant. Dr. Shapiro will study the mechanism of two drugs that can treat epilepsy by reducing electrical activity and excitability in the nervous system.

"Epilepsy is characterized by uncontrolled electrical currents in the brain," Dr Shapiro said. "We will record the minute electrical currents in the individual living cells. Using the tools of molecular biology, we will learn how the drugs work by manipulating the amino acids that constitute the channel proteins. This study should help in the development of novel medical treatments for epilepsy."

During a seizure, neurons may fire as many as 500 times a second, much faster than the normal rate of about 80 times a second, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). More than 2 million people in the United States have experienced an unprovoked seizure or been diagnosed with epilepsy, according to the NINDS.

The NINDS and the American Heart Association- Texas Affiliate also fund Dr. Shapiro's research of brain and heart electrical abnormalities.


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