Highlights of Epilepsy Research at IBR
Approximately 30% of individuals with epilepsy are unresponsive to currently available therapies. In a project funded by the National Institutes of Health, IBR researchers are focusing on the development of deep brain stimulation as a therapy for epilepsy. Recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy and safety of using low-frequency stimulation in experimental models of epilepsy. The ultimate goal of this research is the rapid translation of its findings into clinical trials in humans.
The frequency of epilepsy in individuals with autism is increased but variable, ranging from 5% to 38%. Brain studies at IBR have revealed abnormalities in the development and migration of neurons that result in disorganization and seizures. These alterations are present in almost all individuals with autism, but only large lesions initiate seizures. In individuals with a specific form of autism due to chromosome 15 duplication, the number of developmental brain defects is several times more than in individuals with sporadic autism. The result is a significant increase of the risk of intractable epilepsy and sudden unexpected death.
IBR researchers are currently conducting studies to identify the brain areas with an increased prevalence of the alterations that can cause seizures in order to help develop new diagnostic procedures and new treatments.