Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Essential Brains
04 December 2012

Essential Brains

Our brain is the control centre for everything we do, think and feel. Malformations in the brain can be disastrous and leave the sufferer incapacitated. Hemimegalencephaly is a rare brain malformation in which one side of the brain is abnormally large, seen here highlighted by the dashed line on the left, and causes severe epileptic seizures. The deformity is caused by mutations in the genome of individual brain cells during development. Currently surgery is the most successful treatment for severe symptoms, but for some patients this can mean having the entire affected half of their brain removed. While the remaining healthy side of the brain may gradually take over functions that have been lost, the procedure is immensely invasive. Scientists are now investigating the gene mutations sustained by the developing brain cells in the hope of uncovering better ways to treat such debilitating conditions in the future.

Written by Mary-Clare Hallsworth

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