News

New epilepsy treatment offers ‘on demand’ seizure suppression

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Epilepsy seizure suppression schematic

A new treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy with the potential to suppress seizures ‘on demand’, has been developed by researchers in the Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, UCL Institute of Neurology, led by Professor Dimitri Kullmann.

Institute of Neurology ranked as the world’s top institution for epilepsy research.

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UCL Institute of Neurology – in collaboration with the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurology and the Epilepsy Society - has been ranked as the world’s top institution for epilepsy research.

P-glycoprotein over-activity and drug resistance in temporal lobe epilepsy

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A major study published in this month's issue of Lancet Neurology, led by researchers at UCL's Institute of Neurology and funded by the EU-Framework 7 programme, provides the first in-vivo human evidence of an association between over-activity of P-glycoprotein  (a drug transporter) at the blood-brain barrier and drug resistance in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE).

Professor Dimitri Kullmann elected Editor of Brain

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Professor Dimitri Kullmann recipient of award recognising outsanding researchers.

Professor Dimitri Kullmann, based in the Department for Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, at the UCL Institute of Neurology, has been elected as the new Editor of Brain. This neurology journal provides researchers and clinicians with the finest original contributions in the field. Professor Kullmann’s appointment is excellent news for the Institute, and reflects his standing in the academic neurology community.

Links:
https://iris.ucl.ac.uk/research/personal/index?upi=DMKUL63
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ion/departments/epilepsy
http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/

UCL neuroscientists awarded highly competitive ERC Advanced Grants

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Congratulations to Professors Dmitri Rusakov (UCL Institute of Neurology), Robin Ali (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology) and Patrick Haggard (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience), who have all recently been awarded European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grants. These highly competitive research grants are among the most sought after Principal Investigator awards offered from the ERC, and as stated on the ERC’s website: “allow exceptional established research leaders of any nationality and any age to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains.”

Drugs could provide new treatment for epilepsy

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New drugs derived from components of a specific diet used by children with severe, drug-resistant epilepsy could offer a new treatment, according to research published today in the journal Neuropharmacology.

Breakthrough in the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy

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Researchers at the UCL Institute of Neurology have made a breakthrough in the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy.  They used gene therapy in an experimental model of epilepsy to allow over-excitable neurons to be inhibited by light. When they shone a laser via an optical fibre into the epileptic brain region where the gene therapy was delivered, the seizures were rapidly suppressed. For long-term treatment they used a different gene therapy to make neurons in the epileptic brain regions less excitable. This treatment both prevented the development of epilepsy, and also progressively stopped seizures when delivered after epilepsy was already established. These treatments had no detectable effects on normal behaviour. Although at an early stage, these new treatments could eventually be used in people with epilepsy that cannot be controlled by medication and where the site of initiation of the seizures can be defined using high-resolution electrical mapping.

Professor Simon Shorvon appointed  Harveian librarian at the Royal College of Physicians

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Congratulations to Simon Shorvon, professor of clinical neurology at the UCL Institute of Neurology (Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy), who has been appointed Harveian librarian at the Royal College of Physicians

Institute scientist takes his research to Parliament

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Dr Robert Wykes outside the Houses of Parliament


Dr Robert Wykes (Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy) has been shortlisted to attend Parliament on Monday 12 March to present his research to a range of politicians and a panel of expert judges as part of SET for Britain – a research poster competition for early–career researchers.

Dr Wykes will be presenting a poster on research about gene therapy treatment for drug–resistant forms of epilepsy. His entry will be judged against dozens of other scientist’s research in the only national competition of its kind.

On presenting in Parliament, Dr Wykes said: “I am delighted to attend this scientific competition.This is a unique opportunity for me to engage with politicians and demonstrate to them the cutting edge medical research that is being done in the UK.”

Andrew Miller MP, Chairman of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee explained: “This annual competition is important because it gives MPs an opportunity to speak to a wide range of the country’s best young researchers. These early career scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.”

Dr Wykes’ research has been entered into the biological and biomedical sciences session of the competition, which will be judged by leading academics. Gold, silver and bronze prizes will be awarded and winners will receive £3,000, £2,000 and £1,000 respectively.

    "These early career scientists are the architects of our future and SET for Britain is politicians’ best opportunity to meet them and understand their work.” Andrew Miller MP

SET for Britain is a poster competition in the House of Commons, it was established by Dr Eric Wharton in 1997. The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee now run the event with support from a number of institutions.

Image: Dr Robert Wykes outside the Houses of Parliament

Major new funding for research into epilepsy is announced

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Professor Sanjay Sisodiya

The EpiPGX Consortium, involving 15 partners from 8 countries, has received almost €6 million funding from the European Union FP7 programme to investigate the genetic basis of responses to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in epilepsy.

Over 50,000,000 people across the world have epilepsy. For many people, AEDs are simply not available, or the choice is extremely limited. In other countries, several AEDs are available to be prescribed, but the evidence guiding choice of drug for an individual patient is very limited. The EpiPGX Consortium will explore the influence of genetic variation on responses, both desirable and undesirable, to AEDs, aiming to identify genetic variants that will guide treatment choices at the individual level.

The Consortium is coordinated by Professor Sanjay Sisodiya, UCL Institute of Neurology (Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy), with the following partners: Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium), Istituto Giannina Gaslini (Italy), Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingen (Germany), Stichting Epilepsie Instellingen Nederland (The Netherlands), Universitaetsklinikum Bonn (Germany), Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Ireland), Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (UK), Islensk Erfdagreining EHF (Iceland), Universite Du Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht (The Netherlands), The University of Liverpool (UK), Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (UK), University of Glasgow (UK) and GABO:mi Gesellschaft fur Ablauforganisation:milliarium mbH & Co. KG (Germany).

The Consortium welcomes collaboration. Please contact s.sisodiya@ucl.ac.uk for further information.

Epilepsy surgery shows promising results, says study

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A study by Professor John Duncan (UCL Institute of Neurology) finds that a third of people with epilepsy should be considered for surgery. Read: BBC News Online

Novel treatments for epilepsy

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Half a million people in the UK have epilepsy of which 30% are not adequately controlled on present treatments. Moreover, the use of one of the most effective antiepileptic drugs, sodium valproate, has been limited by its side-effects and, in particular, by its teratogenic effect (a teratogen is a drug or other substance capable of interfering with the development of a fetus, causing birth defects).

Professor Dimitri Kullmann recognised for his outstanding research

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Professor Dimitri Kullmann recipient of award recognising outsanding researchers.

The Wellcome Trust today announced the first recipients of its Investigator Awards, £56 million worth of funding for exceptional researchers addressing the most important questions about health and disease, and we are delighted be able to congratulate Professor Dimitri Kullmann, Head of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy who is amongst four UCL Scientists to receive one these prestigious awards.

Understanding how the brain determines coincidence

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Neurons in the brain are bombarded by incoming signals, and one of the challenges facing neuroscience research is to understand how the brain sorts this information.

Epilepsy prizes

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Congratulations to Dr David Carmichael of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy  who has won the first Sir Peter Mansfield Prize for technical developments in the field of Magnetic Resonance and Biology.  The Sir Peter Mansfield Prize is awarded by the British Chapter of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine  for outstanding research on innovative technical developments in the field of magnetic resonance in medicine and biology submitted to their Annual Scientific Meeting. 

Professor John Duncan appointed as NIHR Senior Investigator

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The Institute is delighted  to congratulate Professor John Duncan on his appointment as a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator.

Senior Investigators are NIHR’s most pre-eminent researchers and include some of the nation’s most outstanding leaders of patient and people based health and social care research.

Professor Duncan joins eight other members of Institute staff recognised in this way by the NIHR. They are Professors:  Martin Brown, John Collinge, Nick Fox, Andrew Lees, David Miller, Martin Rossor, Alan ThompsonNicholas Wood, the highest number in the field of neuroscience in any single institution in the UK.




A role for astrocytes in learning and memory?

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New research published today in the prestigious journal Nature sheds further light on how memories are formed in the brain.

Memories are formed through changes in the strength of individual synaptic connections between nerve cells. However, a large proportion of brain cells belong to glia which, unlike nerve cells, do not make synapses, are not electrically active and until recently have been associated with exclusively supporting roles. 

Researchers from the Institute Department of Clinical & Experimental Epilepsy (in collaboration with colleagues in INSERM U 862 at the University of Bordeaux) have found that individual star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes release a specific signalling molecule, called D-serine, which is essential for triggering the memory trace machinery in active synapses nearby. 

Astrocytes, once thought little more than passive, structurally supportive brain cells, are increasingly recognized as having a range of important properties and functions, such as the ability to release chemical messengers and signal to other cells. This study helps to add another potential function to that list.

Dmitri Rusakov
, who led the research at the Institute said: “This finding establishes a previously unknown role of glia in basic functions of the human brain identifying a yet unexplored target area for therapeutic intervention.”

Queen Square scientists question memory theory

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The long-held theory that our brains use different mechanisms for forming long-term and short-term memories has been challenged by new research from UCL, published in PNAS.

Memorandum of collaboration signed

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The Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy (DCEE), at the UCL Institute of Neurology, and the Stichting Epilepsie Instellingen Nederland (SEIN) have signed an important agreement to formalise their already very fruitful collaborations.

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