Brain-chilling chip to switch off seizures

 作者:敬流     |      日期:2019-03-03 06:09:01
By Daniel Pendick JONATHAN is outside, roving the yard at his parents’ 6-acre farm in south-east Illinois in an electric golf cart. His mother Judy peers out of the window nervously, reassured when she spots his silhouette against the rolling acres of corn and soybeans beyond. Small-boned and a little on the short side, Jonathan could be mistaken for a skinny high-school kid. In fact he is 30 years old and has rarely been out of his mother’s sight. “I told you I was an over-protective mom,” she tells me. Jonathan has learning disabilities which doctors believe are the result of a stroke he suffered at birth. But the biggest limitation on his life is epilepsy. Seizures strike without warning, turning his limbs rigid as scores of neurons in a small patch of tissue near the surface of his brain fire simultaneously in an electrical frenzy. Hope of a surgical cure evaporated in Jonathan’s teens. Eventually his doctors found a combination of drugs that cut the frequency of his seizures to three or four a month. But he still lives with the constant threat of a sudden, paralysing attack. Steven Rothman thinks he may have found a way to liberate people like Jonathan. Rothman, Jonathan’s neurologist for nearly 20 years, heads a research group at Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine. In focal epilepsy – the form of the disease that Jonathan suffers from – seizures break out in neurons within a thumbprint-sized portion of the brain. However,