New Ways to Predict and Control Seizures

Researchers from the U and Elsewhere Will Explore New Ways to Predict and Control Seizures

Researchers from the U’s College of Pharmacy and College of Veterinary Medicine are part of a team that recently received a $7.5 million grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (a division of the National Institutes of Health) to study new ways to predict and control epileptic seizures in dogs and people.

Epilepsy affects approximately 1 percent of the human population, with an estimated 50 million people worldwide currently suffering from the disorder. The hallmark of epilepsy is the seizure ― a sudden and often violent event that strikes patients without warning.

“Despite over 15 drugs currently available for the chronic treatment of epilepsy, approximately 25-35 percent of people continue to have persistent and serious seizures even when receiving the most advanced medical care,” said Jim Cloyd, professor in the College of Pharmacy. “For those whose epilepsy is well-controlled by medication, they must often cope with significant and debilitating side effects.”

The researchers will use an implantable device system that continuously collects and analyzes electroencephalograms (EEG) data to detect impending seizures. The system uses an external patient-carried device with a very simple interface―three colored lights―to indicate the risk of an impending seizure to the patient. The system is currently undergoing study in clinical trials in human patients being conducted in Australia.

The NIH-funded research will involve applying the technology to dogs with naturally occurring epilepsy, and extending the technology by using it to guide the administration of fast-acting drugs to prevent seizures. It is hoped that this work will translate to a similar solution for human patients.

The goal of the research is reliable seizure forecasting in conjunction with timely, effective short-term intervention, which could lead to more effective treatment for both canine and human epilepsy.

Others involved in the study include researchers from the Mayo Clinic, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and NeuroVista Corporation.

(Originally published in The Record Spring 2012)