GRK 2154 - Materials for Brain

P9: Epilepsy therapy by local release of antiepileptic drugs (U. Stephani, P. Wulff)

Epilepsy affects about 50 Million people worldwide making it one of the most common neurological diseases. It is characterized by recurrent seizures caused by synchronous electrical discharge of large groups of neurons in the brain leading to involuntary muscle contractions often accompanied by a loss of consciousness. The disease is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and often prevents sufferers from leading a “normal” life. In addition, epilepsy is often perceived as social stigma causing significant personal distress to those affected.

Fortunately, most patients respond well to oral medication with anti-epileptic drugs and are thus able to lead a normal life without seizures. However, about one third of patients do not respond to oral treatment (pharmacoresistent epilepsy). This is partly due to the fact that drugs that are transported in the blood after oral application cannot enter the brain (the site of drug action in epilepsy) in sufficient amounts because of the blood brain barrier.

This project at the interface of engineering, physics, biology and medicine aims to develop a strategy for tackling pharmacoresistent epilepsy. To this end we will explore the possibility of using intracranial implants of drug-loaded materials, which permit temporally controlled drug release in the brain. These materials will be developed within the GRK and investigated for their therapeutic efficiency in vivo using electro encephalography (EEG) recordings and behavioural analysis.