According to a new study conducted by researchers at McGill University, table salt or sodium may trigger the changes in the kainite receptor in the brain that cause seizures in epileptics. The results of this study are published in the journal Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Professor Derek Bowie and his team at McGill’s Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics teamed up with researchers at the University of Oxford to offer a different perspective on how the brain sends information, which could help scientists find a new target for the development of new drugs. When it comes to epilepsy, the researchers were looking at kainite because the activity it causes in the brain is very excessive, so the drugs developed with this target in mind would seek to balance out the kainite activity.

“It has been assumed for decades that the ‘on/off’ switch for all brain receptors lies where the neurotransmitter binds,” says Bowie, who also holds a Canada Research Chair in Receptor Pharmacology. “However, we found a completely separate site that binds individual atoms of sodium and controls when kainate receptors get turned on and off.”

Sodium targets kainite receptors specifically, which means that drugs would have to be created with stimulating the switch in the brain rather than anywhere else. This is good because the drugs developed would not target anything else and could thus be more effective.

“Now that we know how to stimulate kainate receptors, we should be able to design drugs to essentially switch them off,” says Bowie.

Epilepsy is a condition that causes seizures and affects millions of people worldwide. The condition is treated with various medications including Topamax. Topamax has been linked to an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts, as well as birth defects in women whose babies are exposed to the drug in-utero. Some of those birth defects linked to Topamax use during pregnancy include cleft lips, cleft palates, genital defects and other birth malformations.

If your baby was born with birth defects after in-utero exposure to Topamax, contact attorney Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am experienced at fighting Topamax lawsuits and may be able to help you recover money for your child’s injuries.