Ph.D. Candidate, Monash University Malaysia
Embelin, a potential molecule to ameliorate epilepsy and a related cognitive decline in zebrafish
The brain is made up of little things called neurons. Our body parts communicate with the brain via electrical signals, these signals work together in areas of the brain that control movement. For the normal functioning of our body, each neuron should fire one after the other, unlike traffic lights. Impairment of the brain performances such as learning and memory is frequently observed in epileptic patients. They are difficult to treat, little understood, and marked severe side effects of epilepsy. Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are the medicines which are used to treat epilepsy. They do not treat epilepsy completely but reduce the intensity and frequency of seizures. New clinical reports from neurologists are showing that medicines which are used to treat epilepsy are responsible to worsen the memory status of the patients. It is same like you keep a pet dog who protects your house from thieves, but it comes and bit you. To deal with this problem, many physicians started prescribing medicines for both epilepsy and memory problem. But the problem is, as the number of medicine increases the side effects associated with those medicines also increase. So we decided to follow the reverse pharmacological approach, where you need to reverse the process of laboratory-to-clinic. It means that there are many medicines which are of natural origin and used in the alternate medicinal system but their mode of action is unknown. Same way Embelin is also one of the Malaysian plant-based benzoquinone which is used to treat epilepsy in the traditional medicinal system. But the question is how does embelin actually works? In my research, we found that embelin can reduce epileptic seizures in zebrafish and do not affect the memory function of the fish. The interesting fact is embelin works by modulating neurochemicals, genes, and protein that treats epilepsy and enhance memory function. As the effectiveness of embelin is proved in clinics, I could also prove the effectiveness of embelin in the laboratory and I think someday it will be translated into clinics and patients will be benefited by it.