Implant in brain detects, stops and prevents seizures
Researchers led by the University of Cambridge have successfully used an implanted device in the brain to detect, stop and prevent epileptic seizures in an animal model. When the first signals of a seizure were detected, the device delivered a naturally occurring brain chemical (a neurotransmitter) which stopped the seizure from progressing.
There are many different types of epileptic seizure but in most people with epilepsy the seizure occurs because neurons in the brain become hyper-excited and start firing, signalling to neighbouring neurons to start firing too. The resulting seizure can affect consciousness and/or motor control.
Most people with epilepsy are treated with medication, but even where seizure control is good, these antiepileptic medications can have unpleasant side effects. And in 3 out of every 10 epilepsy patients, the drugs do not work in effectively controlling seizures.
In this piece of research, the researchers used a neurotransmitter which acts as the ‘brake’ at the source of the seizure, essentially signalling to the neurons to stop firing and end the seizure. The drug is delivered to the affected region of the brain by a neural probe incorporating a tiny ion pump and electrodes to monitor neural activity.
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