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22 January 2014

International effort unlocks brains secrets

An international study, including researchers from Epilepsy Society, has identified five genetic variants that influence the size of structures within the brain which in turn increases knowledge of the causes of variability in brain development.

Almost 300 scientists from 193 institutes - including Epilepsy Society - shared results from analyses of genetic data and MRI scans from more than 30,000 individuals.

Power to crack the brain's genetic code 

 'ENIGMA’s (Enhancing Neuro Imaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis) scientists screen brain scans and genomes worldwide for factors that help or harm the brain”, said ENGIMA co-founder Prof Paul Thompson. 'This crowd-sourcing and sheer wealth of data gives us the power to crack the brain’s genetic code.'

The study, published in Nature (21 January), focussed on seven sub-cortical regions, associated with memory, movement, learning and motivation.

Bringing together genetics and imaging

Professor Sanjay Sisodiya, Epilepsy Society's lead geneticist said:  'Epileptic seizures arise in the brain. This important study, the result of a global collaboration of which Epilepsy Society was part, brings together genetics and imaging, two strengths of research at Epilepsy Society.

'The study has started the process of showing how genes influence the size, shape and other aspects of different parts of the brain. In turn, this will help us understand how genes that cause epilepsy might act on the brain itself, so helping us to understand how gene changes might lead to epilepsy, and also sets the scene to start understanding how epilepsy can in turn affect the brain in the setting of a particular genetic makeup.'