Nav: Home

Cardiff University to investigate new epilepsy treatment

June 15, 2016

Researchers at Cardiff University's School of Medicine are about to explore whether it's possible to treat human temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) by transplanting immature neuron cells into the brain.

The new project, funded by a 24-month pilot grant from Epilepsy Research UK (ERUK), will allow the team to carry out research vital to the progression of this form of TLE treatment to human clinical trials, which could potentially take place in the next 3-5 years.

A chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures, epilepsy affects over 600,000 people nationwide, with 32,000 people newly diagnosed with the condition each year. With TLE a loss/dysfunction of interneurons in the hippocampus of the brain is one of the earliest changes. In theory, it should be possible to address this balance by replacing these lost/damaged interneurons with new ones, and experimental attempts to do this have been promising.

The team at Cardiff University is further exploring this cell transplantation treatment, using 3D cultures of human epileptic brain tissue that has been removed during epilepsy surgery. After adding human stem cells to these cultures the team has found that, although many die, some survive and show signs of early maturation. These cultures will be used to determine what allows the transplanted cells that survive and develop to do so.

Principal Investigator for the project, Cardiff University's Professor Liam Gray, said:

"This exciting project will give significant insights into the feasibility of cell transplantation for treating seizures and cognitive problems in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy."

Researchers have already successfully transplanted human stem cells that generate interneurons into the brains of epileptic mice, and they have seen a 90% reduction in seizures. However, the animals used in these studies did not have active immune systems, which was integral to making sure they did not reject the transplanted cells. In human TLE the hippocampus is very inflamed, and long-term suppression of the immune system is not feasible.

If the transplantation of neuron cells is to become a realistic treatment for TLE, researchers must understand what signals are exchanged between the inflamed hippocampus and transplanted cells in humans, and how this will affect the survival, development and integration of the new interneurons. Only with this knowledge will they be able to provide an optimal environment for transplanted cells and the best chance of success.

More information about the research grant is available on the Epilepsy Research UK website.
-end-
Notes to editors

1. Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain's leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK's most research intensive universities. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework ranked the University 5th in the UK for research excellence. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University's breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff's flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to pressing global problems. http://www.cardiff.ac.uk

2. For further information contact:

Julia Short
Communications and Marketing
Cardiff University
Tel: 02920 875596
Email: ShortJ4@cardiff.ac.uk

Cardiff University

Related Hippocampus Articles:

The hippocampus underlies the link between slowed walking and mental decline
The connection between slowed walking speed and declining mental acuity appears to arise in the right hippocampus, a finger-shaped region buried deep in the brain at ear-level, according to a 14-year study conducted by scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
The brain's hippocampus can organize memories for events as well as places
Researchers at Japan's RIKEN Brain Science Institute have found that the hippocampus can generalize, putting not just places but also events into sequence by changing the neural code in the rat brain.
Plasma membrane protein may help generate new neurons in the adult hippocampus
New research published online in The FASEB Journal sheds important light on the inner workings of learning and memory.
Silent seizures recorded in the hippocampus of two patients with Alzheimer's disease
Massachusetts General Hospital investigators have identified silent, seizure-like activity in the hippocampus -- a brain structure significantly affected in Alzheimer's disease -- in two patients with Alzheimer's disease and no known history of seizures.
Brain tissue structure could explain link between fitness and memory
Studies have suggested a link between fitness and memory, but researchers have struggled to find the mechanism that links them.
Novel mode of antidepressant action may help patients unresponsive to SSRIs
Research at Osaka University identified a novel mode of action for a potential antidepressant that also leads to nerve cell growth in the mouse hippocampus.
Study identifies brain's connections which keep related memories distinct from each other
Neuroscientists at the University of Bristol are a step closer to understanding how the connections in our brain which control our episodic memory work in sync to make some memories stronger than others.
New system for forming memories
Until now, the hippocampus was considered the most important brain region for forming and recalling memory, with other regions only contributing as subordinates.
Moderate exercise improves memory dysfunction caused by type 2 diabetes
University of Tsukaba-led researchers showed that impaired glycometabolism and memory function in type 2 diabetic rats is improved by moderate exercise, possibly via enhanced lactate transport to neurons by MCT2.
Researchers uncover how hippocampus influences future thinking
Over the past decade, researchers have learned that the hippocampus -- historically known for its role in forming memories -- is involved in much more than just remembering the past; it plays an important role in imagining events in the future.

Related Hippocampus Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...