UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


$5.9 million boost for SUDEP research

9 December 2014

A research team at UCL Institute of Neurology is one of nine projects who will receive funding totalling $5.9 million, over five years, from US government to speed up the pace of research into Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP).

The announcement comes at the same time as two of the UK’s epilepsy charities have invested major funds in essential infrastructure to support this research.

Combining one of the world’s largest collections of brains from individuals who have died from SUDEP with tissue collected from individuals undergoing epilepsy surgery, Dr. Maria Thom and her colleagues at Epilepsy Society Brain and Tissue Bank, based at the UCL Institute of Neurology, will use a variety of techniques to examine the brain in SUDEP, and with US colleagues in the Center for SUDEP Research will also look at the role of two chemicals, adenosine and serotonin, in SUDEP.

Community promotion and support for bereaved families and coroners will be provided in the UK by SUDEP Action’s Epilepsy Deaths Register and in the US by the SUDEP North American Registry. Epilepsy Society, which established the Epilepsy Society Brain and Tissue Bank in 2013, will lead on promoting the initiative with people living with epilepsy in the UK.

Each year, SUDEP occurs in 1 out of 1000 people with epilepsy, often in people between 20 to 40 years old. SUDEP refers to deaths with no known causes in individuals with epilepsy. In the UK, it is estimated that there are 600 deaths a year from SUDEP. Current efforts are focused on risk reduction through control of seizures, but there are no proven prevention strategies.

Further information: