Carbon dioxide – a cost-free epileptic treatment

15.06.2007
Recent research shows that carbon dioxide (CO2) can potentially offer a new – and completely free – way to prevent fever-related epileptic seizures. The discovery was made by the NordForsk-financed Nordic Centre of Excellence on Water Imbalance Related Disorders (WIRED).
One of the researchers behind the discovery, Professor Kai Kaila from WIRED estimates that “if our results are confirmed in the clinical tests currently ongoing, CO2 enriched air could prove a simple, safe, effective and practically cost-free way to treat fever-related seizures among small children.”

Fever-related epileptic disorders are very common in infants. The experiments carried out by WIRED have shown that epileptic seizures induced by fever can be stopped rapidly (within 20 seconds) and safely by simply adding 5% CO2 to the air inhaled. Such fever-related seizures only affect children under the age of five, but experimental studies have shown that they could make the brain prone to epilepsy later in life. “The CO2 treatment could therefore also have long-term benefits, by reducing the risk of developing epilepsy at an older age”, Professor Kai Kaila explains.

The therapy will not be limited only to fever-induced seizures, however. Evidence suggests that the treatment can also be effective in stopping some other types of epileptic seizures, potentially offering a welcome treatment to those suffering from epilepsy worldwide.

The impressive research results and their rapid clinical testing were made possible by the unique environment that the Nordic countries offer for research in the field of molecular medicines. Assets include extensive and reliable patient and epidemiological registries, biobanks, uniform high level health care systems, as well as a strong tradition in genetic and biomedical research. The increased collaboration between the Nordic countries that the Nordic Centre of excellence constellation has made possible have given the associated researchers a mass and impact that have significantly increased the visibility of Nordic research in molecular medicine worldwide.
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