Dravet syndrome, a rare but severe and deadly form of epilepsy which kills at a rate 30 times higher than other childhood-onset epilepsies, has perplexed scientists for years. Now, a new study has shown that the cure might be present in, of all things, tarantula venom.
Researchers have, since Dravet syndrome was identified more than 30 years ago, learned Dravet syndrome cases are caused by a genetic mutation that impedes function in a gene known as SCN1A. The gene produces a protein called Nav1.1. that controls the electrical properties of neurons in the brain, and children with Dravet syndrome do not produce enough of the protein to control this electric activity (epileptic seizures result from a disturbance in electric activity in the brain).