Trending News Today: Research Advances Treatment of Epilepsy, Autism

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

Clusters of cultured forebrain cells grown in the lab provide insight into the origins of autism and epilepsy, according to NPR. The clusters, also called minibrains, are created by transforming skin cells from an individual cell into neural stem cells. These stem cells can then grow into structures similar to those found in the brain and form networks of communicating cells, NPR reported. Using the minibrains­­—–which are approximately the size of the head of a pin––the investigators found that a genetic mutation associated with autism and epilepsy prevented developing cells from migrating from one cluster of brain cells to the other. To correct the migration problem, the investigators added calcium blockers to the petri dish. “If you do treat the cultures with this calcium blocker, you can actually restore the migration of cells in a dish,” Dr Sergiu Pasca told NPR. Although correcting this issue in a developing infant would not be that simple, the findings provide insight into how brain organoids can help show what is occurring and test drugs that address the problem.

An old generic drug that costs less than $1 per dose may help prevent postpartum hemorrhages and save many lives. In a study published in The Lancet, women were randomized to receive either an injection of a placebo or tranexamic acid, which helps the blood clot. According to The Washington Post, deaths were reduced by one-third in women administered tranexamic acid within 3 hours of the onset of the hemorrhage during the double-blind trial. An estimated 100,000 women per year die of postpartum hemorrhage in poor and middle income countries.

Elephant tranquilizers are the latest drug to be tacked on to the ongoing opioid epidemic, according to The Washington Post. Carfentanil is 100 times more potent than the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which was responsible for Prince’s death. Thus far, 3 cases this month in Anne Arundel and Frederick counties in Maryland marks the first carfentanil-related fatalities in the state, which is already in a state of emergency to combat the opioid crisis.

More resources pertaining to epilepsy can be found on Specialty Pharmacy Times' sister site, NeurologyLive. The Clinical Focus condition page serves as a home for the latest clinical news, articles, videos, and newly released data from the field's most attended conferences.