Research Training Group 2154 - Materials for Brain

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

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases. Although there is a multitude of pathogenetic causes, they all converge in a common pathology, characterized by recurrent seizures caused by synchronous activity of large groups of neurons in the brain. Depending on the brain region that is affected, symptoms vary dramatically ranging e.g. from a short loss of consciousness to severe involuntary muscle contractions. People suffering from the disease show increased morbidity and mortality, and are often unable to lead a “normal” life. In addition, epilepsy is often perceived as social stigma causing significant personal distress to those affected.
Fortunately, about two thirds of patients respond well to oral medication (systemic therapy) with anti-epileptic drugs which efficiently suppresses seizure activity. However, about one third of patients do not respond to oral treatment (pharmacoresistent epilepsy). This is partly due to the fact that drugs are transported via the blood to the location where they are needed. In the case of epilepsy, the blood-brain-barrier (a highly selective border) prevents that sufficient amounts of the drug reach the affected area in the brain.
The goal of project P9 is to develop new therapeutic approaches for patients suffering from pharmacoresistent epilepsy by providing localized therapies. This goal will be pursued by an interdisciplinary approach, combining engineering, physics, biology and medicine. In the last funding period, we have determined the therapeutic efficiency of different drugs and application routes. For the current period, we will develop and test intracranial implants of drug-loaded materials, which permit temporally controlled drug release in the brain. These materials will be developed within the RTG and investigated for their therapeutic efficiency in vivo using electro encephalography (EEG) recordings and behavioral analysis.