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Researchers report on convergence of technology

Seattle, December 8, 2008 Epileptologists are constantly searching for non-invasive or minimally invasive ways to uncover and describe the brain down to its most fundamental cellular and molecular detail and function. Their goal is to achieve the ability to locate and treat the specific cells, neurons or network that start the train of events that produce seizures. Another is to restore cognitive function after possible injury from continuous seizures.

In presentations today before epilepsy specialists from around the world, scientists will describe how the convergence of technology and medicine is opening an unprecedented window to brain function at the most fundamental levels and blazing a trail toward achieving near pin-point accuracy in defining the cause of epilepsy and in delivering therapeutic agents to specific seizure causing regions in the brain.

The researchers will present reports on:

  • work potentially leading to memory circuits being restored to function after injury from temporal lobe seizures;
  • research showing that light can alter a drug effect and abort seizures by targeting specific brain cells non-invasively;
  • studies that will aid the delivery of therapeutic cells, molecules, and genes precisely to specific target cells or regions in the brain;
  • and a revolution in imaging technology that will soon provide real time upgrading of how the brain is shifting during actual surgery.

The presentations are part of a symposium titled Technology and Human Investigation in Epilepsy: A Window to Brain Function, a Bridge in Patient Care led by Dennis D. Spencer, M.D., Harvey & Kate Cushing Professor Neurosurgery and Chair of Neurosurgery, Yale University School of Medicine and President of the American Epilepsy Society (AES).

"Technology has driven the major advances in the success of surgical care of epilepsy. It has also been most prominent in the diagnostic localization of the epilepsy generating brain in relation to functional brain," said Spencer.

Epilepsy affects 50 million people around the globe, including 3 million in the United States. It is the most common neurological disorder in children and the third most common in adults after Alzheimer's disease and stroke.


Contact: Peter VanHaverbeke
American Epilepsy Society

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