Cutting-edge techniques to explore brain cell activity in epilepsy: Final Report

This is the final report for a 2014 fellowship grant for £211,516 awarded to Dr Rob Wykes at UCL. 

Recent technical advances allow optical imaging of neocortical network activity in exquisite detail using rodent models. Dr Wykes at UCL was amongst the first apply this technology to study important questions in the field of epilepsy. Using a cutting-edge technique called ‘fluorescence microscopy’ the research team were able to visualise the activity of large populations of brain cells in real time. This enabled the researchers to investigate how brain cells behave as they are about to trigger a seizure, and what happens during a seizure.

This method can now be used to help guide new ways of preventing the initiation or propagation of seizures, which may be used in the future to help identify treatments to control seizures. The team also determined that this method can detect post-seizure spreading depression, and they are currently determining whether this is important in the induction of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).

Dr Wykes said: “The research fellowship awarded to me by ERUK has allowed me to develop a new technique for epilepsy research, consolidate and enhance my reputation in the epilepsy community, prepare me for the transition to independence, and secure further funding for epilepsy research. ERUK have been fantastic.”

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