2016

Taking Flight Award

Examining The Link Between Seizures, Spreading Depression And SUDEP

Stuart Cain, PhD
University of British Columbia
 

Spreading depression is a phenomenon in which brain cells go completely silent, and it is thought that if this spreads into the brainstem, it can lead to death. The goals of this project are to define the specific brain regions that promote spreading depression into the brainstem and to test whether spreading depression and death can be affected by a new, experimental, seizure-suppressing drug. If successful, this work will confirm that fatality in epilepsy is caused by spread of disabled nerve cell activity to the brainstem, either as a result of or accompanied by severe seizures. It will also define a set of brain regions and underlying mechanisms that cause fatality and potentially identify a new drug for the prevention of SUDEP. Knowledge of the key brain regions that cause spread of nerve cell inactivity and the underlying control mechanisms will allow for drug discovery targeting only those brain areas affected, thereby limiting side effects.

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