An article written by three Wesleyan faculty and two alumni was published in the January 2012 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, 32(1): pages 46-61.
The authors include Jan Naegele, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior; Gloster Aaron, assistant professor of biology, assistant professor of neuroscience; Laura Grabel, the Lauren B. Dachs Professor of Science and Society, professor of biology; Xu Maisano Ph.D. ’11; and Elizabeth Litvina B.A./M.A. ’11. Xu was the lead author. This study is part of a larger effort between three biology labs (Naegele, Aaron, and Grabel) to study embryonic stem cell therapies for temporal lobe epilepsy.
In this large, multi-year study, the authors show that embryonic stem cell derived neurons can develop into the major type in inhibitory neuron that degenerates in severe temporal lobe epilepsy. Because these interneurons reside in a part of the hippocampus that controls the spread of seizures throughout the cortex, when these neurons are injured or die off, seizures are able to spread throughout the hippocampus and into other brain regions, causing a more severe seizure.