Novel treatment for epilepsy based on viral vectors and cell
14 November 2012
The EU-funded EPIXCHANGE project aims to develop treatments
for epilepsy by using viruses to infect brain cells and by transplanting
cells into the brain.
The €1m project will be carried out at Lund University, Sweden,
in collaboration with Italian, Danish and French researchers.
Epilepsy is a devastating neurological disease affecting 50
million people worldwide. Patients with epilepsy run a higher risk
of sudden unexpected death. In Sweden some 60 000 people suffer from
epilepsy. Around 30-40% of epileptic patients are refractory to
currently available pharmacological treatments, which are mostly
symptomatic and often have side effects. Therefore there is a great
unmet need to develop novel treatment strategies for epilepsy.
How it works
The new project will explore the development of encapsulated
human cell lines producing the neurotransmitter galanin and/or the
neuropeptide Y (NPY) and their effect on epileptic seizures in
experimental animals. The project will also use viral vectors to
deliver neuropeptides and other proteins – neurotrophic factors –
into the brain to suppress seizures. These novel approaches will lay
a foundation for developing alternative treatment strategies for
A viral vector approach to delivering genes of interest into the
brain is already a reality. Several studies have already been
performed in clinical settings in the US for Parkinson’s disease.
According to Professor Merab Kokaia of Lund University, the plan is
to perform such clinical trials in Lund on patients with severe
epilepsy that does not respond to drug treatment.
On 10 November 2012, the consortium organised a workshop on
Animal Models of Epilepsy in Lund. This workshop discussed relevant
models of epilepsy and translational aspects of the preclinical
research. It is very important that the models that are used for
basic research reflect human epilepsy, and that the treatments
tested on animals will have translational value in order to develop
these approaches towards clinical applications.
EPIXCHANGE website: http://www.epixchange.eu