What might we see in epilepsy research developments in the coming years?
Dr Vincenzo Marra from the University of Leicester was awarded an Epilepsy Research UK project grant earlier this year to look at how naturally occurring changes in the brain during a seizure could throw light on new therapeutic targets.
As Dr Marra explains: “I am interested in how the brain can handle an enormous amount of information with very little room for error. I believe that understanding how the brain can perform such an astonishing task can help us provide therapies to reduce the risk of seizures, which occur when the brain is incapable of maintaining its activity under control.”
On the basis of his knowledge and experience we asked him for his view on epilepsy research developments over the coming years. This was his response:
“Many anti-epileptic drugs attempt to reduce epileptic seizures by controlling brain activity. While these drugs can prevent seizures for some people they may also interfere with the normal functioning brain, which can result in side effects ranging from mild to severe.
We are trying to understand the mechanisms used by the brain to control its activity as it attempts to maintain a healthy equilibrium. We hope that our learnings will be used to inform the development of a new generation of treatments that take advantage of the brain’s own strategies to regulate its activity.
Over the coming years as we increase our understanding of epilepsy, we expect to see an increase in the number and variety of therapies available to people affected by this condition which can present itself in many different forms.
Researchers are currently working on a number of approaches, spanning from gene therapy to nutritional regimes that can work alongside clinical treatments. Through this research we hope to be able to contribute to future treatment regimes by identifying a new target for these therapies.
We thank Dr Marra for his contribution. If you would like to read more about his research which will examine the role of a nerve cell component over 100 times smaller than the very tip of an eyelash, you can do so here: This tiny structure, called a synaptic vesicle, may be a new therapeutic target for seizure prevention,