Rethinking Seizure Care Blog

Better Treatments For Epilepsy Could Be On The Horizon

Posted by RSC Diagnostics on Jun 25, 2021


Illustration of a nerve cell on a colored background with light effects

Around 60 million people in the world have epilepsy, and more are being diagnosed each day. Epilepsy can affect people of any age, and many forms of epilepsy could present themselves. Unfortunately, there are still more questions around epilepsy than there are answers. There is no cure, and there is no solution that can work as a treatment for everyone. In some cases, anti-seizure medications are used, but around 33% of people do not improve with medication. They might need to have surgery or another treatment.

New Research Holds Promise

Fortunately, some researchers are looking into different types of drugs and treatments that can help those who have epilepsy. Recently, scientists have discovered the way that neurons are connected in areas of the brain. This information could help to be a better means of indicating disease progression and treatment outcomes for people who have brain disorders like epilepsy.

The study was published in Human Brain Mapping. Dr. Marcus Kaiser from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham led the researchers in this study. They looked at patients with epilepsy who were undergoing surgery, and they found that “changes that occur in the local network within brain regions can be a better predictor of disease progression.” These changes can also be a better indicator of whether the surgery will be a success or not.

The researchers discovered that looking at the connectivity in regions of the brain proved to be better than the current means that were used. Currently, the fiber tract connectivity between brain regions is used. However, by “dividing the surface of the brain into 50,000 network nodes of comparable size, each brain region could be studied as a local network of 100 to 500 nodes.” By looking at those smaller, local networks, it was possible to see changes when compared to a control group that did not have epilepsy.

Another benefit is that they use a non-invasive technique for this. It is called diffusion tensor imaging, which can be conducted with an MRI scanner. The researchers found that connectivity within regions of the brain was a better predictor of whether removing parts of the brain tissue using surgery would be successful.

Dr. Kaiser said, “When someone has an epileptic seizure, it 'spreads' through the brain. We found that local network changes occurred for regions along the main spreading pathways for seizures. Importantly, regions far away from the starting point of the seizure, for example in the opposite brain hemisphere, were involved. This indicates that the increased brain activity during seizures leads to changes in a wide range of brain regions. Furthermore, the longer patients suffered, the more regions showed local changes and the more severe were these changes.”

Researchers from several locations evaluated the scans of 33 temporal lobe epilepsy patients and 36 control subjects. The universities in the study include Nottingham, Newcastle, Qingdao, Shanghai, and Munich. A company called Biomax was involved in the study, as well.

The software from Biomax can be used in hospitals with relative ease, and it could be combined with other dings of data from other scans or genetics to give doctors a better idea of how successful the surgery will be. All of the researchers and universities involved with the research concluded that using local connectivity is the better solution when it comes to making predictions and identifying patients where the surgery will not lead to improvement. This could eventually lead to improved outcomes as more and more hospitals start to adopt this option.




Topics: Epilepsy Treatment