Epilepsy Project

With more than 50 million patients worldwide, epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders. The main treatment for epilepsy is pharmacotherapy with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). AED treatment, however, has two major disadvantages: 1) AEDs can cause severe side effects that lower quality of life and 2) about 30% of patients are AED-resistant and do not respond to treatment.

Studies show that the blood-brain barrier is severely altered in epilepsy and may play a critical role in AED resistance and seizure genesis. Seizures change levels of blood-brain barrier transporters, and this is thought to reduce AED brain uptake and contribute to AED resistance. Seizures also provoke blood-brain barrier leakage, which in turn triggers new seizures. This implies that seizures cause barrier leakage, leading to more seizures, and thereby promoting epilepsy pathology.

We are currently evaluating the therapeutic benefit of an integrated approach that considers both blood-brain barrier transporters and barrier leakage. This approach is designed specifically to repair blood-brain barrier dysfunction in epilepsy to overcome AED resistance and reduce seizures, which would greatly help epilepsy patients.