Epilepsy Epilessia Neurology
They are using new methods for the treatment of epilepsy, a devastating neurological disorder that affects 50 million people worldwide, of which 6 million are in Europe. This research that deals epilepsy involves the use of viruses to infect brain cells and transplantation of the cells in the brain.
The project which is using for the first time this innovative therapy is called EPIXCHANGE ("Innovative gene therapies for epilepsy treatment") and the work will be done at the University of Lund, Sweden, in collaboration with researchers Italian, Danish and French institutions academic and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The total budget for the project is nearly 1 million euro and it is funded by the European Union.
Epilepsy is characterized by seizures crisis, is usually diagnosed after a person has had two episodes of seizures not caused by a known medical condition or a blood glucose level is very low. Seizures are caused by sudden, usually brief, excessive electrical discharges in a group of brain cells (neurons). A seizure is not a sign of epilepsy (about 10% of people around the world have a seizure in their lifetime).
Epilepsy is one of the oldest recognized diseases in the world, but it can be treated with anti-epileptic therapy in about 70% of cases.
A significant part of the cost of neurological diseases is linked to epilepsy. In Sweden, where it was designed EPIXCHANGE, 60,000 people suffering from epilepsy. Between 30% and 40% of them, however, are resistant to drug therapies, which are mainly symptomatic and often have side effects. The main objective of EPIXCHANGE is therefore explore innovative gene therapies for the treatment of epilepsy.
The project will explore the development of human cell lines that produce the neurotransmitter encapsulated galanin and neuropeptide Y (NPY) and their effect on epileptic convulsions and will use viral vectors to bring the neuropeptides and other proteins - neurotrophic factors - in the brain to stop convulsions . These new approaches will lay the foundation for the development of alternative treatment strategies for epilepsy.
Epilepsy represents 0.5% of the global burden of disease, a measure based on the time it covers the years of life lost due to premature mortality and time lived not in full health. Epilepsy has significant economic implications in terms of health needs, premature death and lost productivity at work.
Although the social effects vary from one country to another, discrimination and social stigma surrounding epilepsy worldwide are often more difficult to overcome seizure itself. People with epilepsy are often subject to prejudice. For example, in the United Kingdom, a law that prohibited people with epilepsy to marry was repealed only in 1970. In the 1970s the United States was legal to deny people who had convulsions access to restaurants, theaters and recreation centers. The brand associated with this disease has often discouraged people to resort to treatment of symptoms and thus identify themselves as sick.
But all this is changing, and a method with viral vectors to carry the genes of interest in the brain is already a reality. There have been several studies in clinical settings in the United States for Parkinson's disease. According to Professor Merab Kokaia, University of Lund, the project consists in making such clinical trials in Lund in patients with severe epilepsy who do not respond to medication.