“If the simple, non-invasive PET scan can give us this information, you can imagine the impact on many of our patients … how we can now manage them in a rather less invasive way than we have managed.”

Imad Najm, MD, director of the Epilepsy Center and vice chair of the Neurological Institute for Strategy and Development at Cleveland Clinic, discussed the importance of synaptic vesicle 2A (SV2A), a protein located in the brain that could serve as a key biomarker for identifying epileptic regions in the brain. Vessels located in this synaptic area are described by Najm as “balloons” that contain neurotransmitters. These balloons will dock themselves, release the neurotransmitter and activate other neurons. For an unexplained reason, this particular protein changes in the epileptic focus area of the brain, but not anywhere else.

Using advanced PET imaging, epileptologists may be able to identify where these proteins are located, in turn identifying where seizures may be originating from, providing a specific target for epilepsy surgery.

In an Interview with NeurologyLive, Najm detailed his excitement for this new biomarker and its potential role in diagnosing and treating epilepsy.