|The first article in this month’s Epilepsy Research News Update features work by CURE Epilepsy grantee Dr. Jonathan Viventi. Dr. Viventi has designed a novel, thin, and flexible device that can be implanted in the brain that has the potential to improve the understanding of brain activity before and during a seizure. This device can capture a more detailed picture of brain activity, which may be used to gain a better understanding of seizures and eventually help develop new treatments for epilepsy.
Also included is a study indicating that blood levels of many commonly used antiseizure medications (ASMs) drop dramatically with the onset of pregnancy. Additionally, we share recent research which has found that sleep concerns are highly prevalent in children with epilepsy– for both those with and without nighttime seizures – and these issues persist and may potentially get worse with age.
Lastly, we highlight a study finding that early post-traumatic seizures following moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are linked to poorer in-hospital and long-term outcomes, including post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE). These findings help shed light on the relationship between early seizures following TBI and the subsequent development of PTE.
Summaries of these research discoveries can be found below.
Developing a State-of-the-Art Brain Implant to Study Epilepsy: CURE Epilepsy grantee Dr. Jonathan Viventi has been awarded an $8 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to advance his work in implantable brain devices. Dr. Viventi has developed a state-of-the-art implantable monitoring device that can collect previously unobtainable data on how the brain behaves moments before and during a seizure. This implantable device will be composed of a thin, flexible material with thousands of measurement contacts instead of dozens that are available with current technology. “With this tool,” says Dr. Viventi, “we will be able to capture a high-definition picture of what’s really happening in the brain moments before epileptic seizures,” knowledge that may be used to develop new treatments for epilepsy. Learn more
Antiseizure Drugs and Pregnancy: Blood levels of many commonly used antiseizure medications (ASM) drop dramatically with the onset of pregnancy, a recent report has found. The findings, collected as part of the multicenter study Maternal Outcomes and Neurodevelopmental Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs (MONEAD), explain why many women with epilepsy start experiencing breakthrough seizures after conception, reinforcing a possible need to increase doses of certain ASMs and closely monitor blood levels over the course of pregnancy. The researchers state that identifying which ASMs may change in concentration and at what point in pregnancy those changes occur is important for determining which patients may need to be monitored more closely during pregnancy and after delivery. Learn more
Sleep and Epilepsy: A new study has found that sleep concerns are highly prevalent in children with epilepsy – for both those with and without nighttime seizures – and these issues persist and may potentially even get worse with age. Researchers analyzed responses from parents of 356 children with epilepsy between newborn age and 13 years old, through the national Rare Epilepsy Network survey. More than half of respondents reported sleep concerns, with 45% worried about frequent nighttime awakenings and more than a third saying their child had difficulty falling asleep or had very restless sleep. Three-fourths of respondents indicated that their children’s sleep was disrupted by nighttime seizures. The authors noted that future research should explore whether sleep disorders and epilepsy may share common neurophysiological pathways, which may potentially open new doors for targeted interventions and ways to enhance epilepsy management. Learn more
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Seizures: Early post-traumatic seizures following moderate to severe TBI were linked to poorer in-hospital and long-term outcomes, including post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE), according to a study examining an Australian-based group of 15,152 adults diagnosed with moderate to severe TBI. The researchers evaluated risk factors for early post-traumatic seizures and their contribution to PTE and found an increased risk for PTE two years after TBI. The researchers note that whether treatment of early post-traumatic seizures prevents the subsequent development of PTE is not yet known. Learn more