Brain can generate its own Valium, researchers found

A brain protein can act like the drug and stop seizures


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Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered protein in mammals' brain that acts like Valium and that stops several types of attacks.

Back in the 1970s, Valium, or diazepam, was popular as a treatment for epilepsy and anxiety, but after this discovery, researchers want to boost the protein so doctors won't have to prescribe the medicine.

Some studies revealed that Valium can affect short-term and long-term cognition. Besides, people who take this medications long-term develop a physical dependence on the drug.

According to researchers, the protein acts like brain's brake system, which notices when a seizure will occur and stops the process before it takes place.

“Our thinking on brain circuits and epilepsy has been that our brains have their own ways to control seizures, and this is why most of us aren’t having seizures every day,” John Huguenard, author of the study and professor at Standford, explained.

During an attack, brain cells get too active and an avalanche of activity occurs. “The brain’s own ‘Valium’ is acting as an anti-avalanche method, checking things when they’re first starting,”  Huguenard said.

Despite researchers cannot yet identify the specific molecule involved, they know that either a substance called diazepam-binding inhibitor (DBI) or a protein that the brain makes from DBI behaves very much like Valium.

“The ultimate goal would be to develop new lines of therapy that would take this general approach – taking the brain’s mechanism for dealing with seizures and making them even more effective,” Huguenard said.

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