PAETE.ORG FORUMS
Paetenians Home on the Net

HOME | ABOUT PAETE | USAP PAETE MUNISIPYO  | MEMBERS ONLY  | PICTORIAL PAETE | SINING PAETE  | LINKS  |

FORUM GUIDELINES
please read before posting

USAP PAETE Forum Index USAP PAETE
Discussion Forums for the people of Paete, Laguna, Philippines
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch    UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

(Health) Seizures and Epilepsy

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic   printer-friendly view    USAP PAETE Forum Index -> Science Lessons Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
adedios
SuperPoster


Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 5060
Location: Angel C. de Dios

PostPosted: Wed Sep 13, 2006 2:03 pm    Post subject: (Health) Seizures and Epilepsy Reply with quote






Massachusetts Institute of Technology
12 September 2006

MIT device could prevent epileptic seizures

New treatment builds on an existing therapy
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Researchers at MIT are developing a device that could detect and prevent epileptic seizures before they become debilitating.

Epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide, and while anticonvulsant medications can reduce the frequency of seizures, the drugs are ineffective for as many as one in three patients.

The new treatment builds on an existing treatment for epilepsy, the Cyberonics Inc. vagus nerve stimulator (VNS), which is often used in patients who do not respond to drugs. A defibrillator typically implanted under the patient's collar bone stimulates the left vagus nerve about every five minutes, which has been shown to help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in many patients.

The MIT researchers and colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) seek to improve the treatment by combining it with a detector that measures brain activity to predict when a seizure is about to occur. The new device would sense the oncoming seizure and then activate the VNS, in principle halting the seizure before it becomes manifest.

"Our contribution is the software that decides when to turn the stimulator on," said John Guttag, MIT's Dugald C. Jackson Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Guttag developed the system along with Ali Shoeb, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.

"Our colleague Dr. Steven Schachter, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and epileptologist at BIDMC, suggested hooking our detector up to the VNS," he said. MIT and BIDMC researchers plan to test the new device in epilepsy patients this fall. If it seems effective, more comprehensive trials will be launched.

A look at brain patterns

The detector works by measuring brain activity with electrodes placed on the patient's scalp. In its current form, the patient wears something resembling a bathing cap, in which electrodes are embedded. In order to adapt the detector to work with the VNS, researchers connected wires from the cap to a laptop computer or microprocessor that activates the implanted defibrillator.

Guttag said he believes the technology could be refined so the electrodes could be worn inside of a headband or baseball cap, making the device less obvious to observers.

Each epilepsy patient has different brain activity patterns, so the detector is programmed to measure an individual's patterns to determine what the precursors to a seizure look like for each patient.

"It's quite tricky to try to detect very early signs of seizures because there are abnormal electrical signals that don't evolve into seizures," Guttag said. "If we can learn what the right profile is for an individual, we can build a seizure onset detector that works really well for that person."

Ideally, when the device senses an impending seizure, it sends a magnetic signal to the implanted stimulator, which in turn activates the left vagus nerve. The vagus nerve sends electrical signals up to the brain as well as down toward the viscera, controlling heart rate, gastrointestinal peristalsis, sweating and keeping the larynx open for breathing. The mechanism by which VNS prevents seizures is not known, but the technique has been FDA approved to treat epilepsy for about 10 years.

About 32,000 epilepsy patients already have VNS implants, according to Guttag. Some of them are able to use a handheld magnet to activate the VNS on demand, but many cannot. If the new detection device is successful, it would allow many more patients to use the VNS on demand.

The device could also be adapted to provide warnings for patients who don't need or want VNS implants. Once the device alerts the patient that a seizure is imminent, that person could take steps to minimize injury, such as sitting down or moving away from potentially dangerous objects, such as a hot stove.

"If you could just give someone a little bit of warning they're about to have a seizure, it could be hugely valuable," Guttag said. "The seizures themselves aren't usually damaging to the brain in the long term. It's mostly about the collateral damage."

Although the seizure detector could have a huge impact on epilepsy patients, there are plenty of other potential applications for technology that analyzes electrical activity in individual brains, Guttag said. Depression, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder are just a few of the conditions that could be studied.

"My hope is that we'll be able to use some of the technology to get insight into a lot of those mysterious neurological conditions," he said.

###
Written by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

A paper describing the seizure-detection technology was published in the August 2004 issue of Epilepsy & Behavior.

Other researchers involved in the project are Blaise Bourgeois, a neurologist at Children's Hospital, and Ted Treves, chief of nuclear medicine at Children's Hospital and professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.

This work was funded by the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology, the U.S. Army and MIT's Project Oxygen.

*************************************************************

Questions to explore further this topic:

The Brain

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/brain/index.html
http://www.paete.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=864

Electrical signals from the brain

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/brain/scanning/eeg.html

What is an Electroencephalogram (EEG)?

http://www.kidshealth.org/pare.....k/eeg.html
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medline.....003931.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.....halography

What are seizures?

http://www.kidshealth.org/pare.....izure.html
http://www.epilepsy.com/101/ep101_seizure.html
http://www.childbrain.com/seizure1.shtml
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medline.....003200.htm
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disor.....ilepsy.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seizure

What causes seizures?

http://www.epilepsyfoundation......es/causes/

How serious are seizures?

http://www.epilepsy.com/101/ep101_death.html

What is epilepsy?

http://www.epilepsy.com/kids/kids_qa.html
http://www.epilepsyfoundation......ilepsy.cfm
http://www.kidshealth.org/kid/.....lepsy.html
http://www.diseases-explained......index.html
http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/epi.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/hea.....044537.stm
http://www.epilepsyfoundation......ilepsy.cfm
http://www.epilepsy.com/101/101_epilepsy.html
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medline.....000694.htm
http://www.cdc.gov/Epilepsy/faqs.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epilepsy
http://www.neuro.wustl.edu/epi.....ation.html

What causes epilepsy?

http://www.epilepsy.com/101/ep101_cause.html

Types of seizures

http://www.epilepsyfoundation......res/types/
http://www.epilepsy.ca/eng/content/types.html

Science of seizures

http://www.epilepsyfoundation......s/science/

Types of epilepsy

http://www.epilepsyfoundation......syndromes/


How is epilepsy treated?

http://www.epilepsyfoundation......treatment/

Epilepsy, thinking and memory

http://www.epilepsy.com/epilep.....emory.html

Epilepsy, mood and behavior

http://www.epilepsy.com/epilep.....nking.html
http://www.epilepsyfoundation......Disorders/
http://www.epilepsyfoundation......200609.cfm
http://www.epilepsyfoundation......200606.cfm

Sleep and epilepsy

http://www.epilepsy.com/epilep.....lepsy.html

What provokes a seizure?

http://www.epilepsy.com/epilep.....izure.html

EEG and epilepsy

http://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/testing_eeg.html

History of epilepsy

http://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/history.html

GAMES

http://www.epilepsy.com/kids/kids_quiz.html
http://www.epilepsy.com/coloring_page.html
http://www.epilepsyfoundation......index.html
http://www.trileptal.com/info/tools/playground.jsp


Last edited by adedios on Sat Jan 27, 2007 4:44 pm; edited 2 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
adedios
SuperPoster


Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 5060
Location: Angel C. de Dios

PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2006 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
8 November 2006

Gene therapy inhibits epilepsy in animals

Altering signaling pathways may be potential approach to therapy
For the first time, researchers have inhibited the development of epilepsy after a brain insult in animals. By using gene therapy to modify signaling pathways in the brain, neurology researchers found that they could significantly reduce the development of epileptic seizures in rats.

"We have shown that there is a window to intervene after a brain insult to reduce the risk that epilepsy will develop," said one of the lead researchers, Amy R. Brooks-Kayal, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and associate professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "This provides a 'proof of concept' that altering specific signaling pathways in nerve cells after a brain insult or injury could provide a scientific basis for treating patients to prevent epilepsy."

Dr. Brooks-Kayal and Shelley J. Russek, Ph.D., of Boston University School of Medicine were senior authors of the study in the Nov. 1 Journal of Neuroscience.

Working in a portion of the brain called the dentate gyrus, the researchers focused on one type of cell receptor, type A receptors, for the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). When GABA(A) receptors are activated, they inhibit the repetitive, excessive firing of brain cells that characterizes a seizure. Seizures are thought to occur, at least in part, because of an imbalance between two types of neurotransmitters: the glutamate system, which stimulates neurons to fire, and the GABA system, which inhibits that brain activity.

GABA's inhibitory role is considered particularly important in the dentate gyrus because the dentate gyrus acts as a gateway for brain activity into the hippocampus, an area that is critical to generating seizures in temporal lobe epilepsy, the most common type of epilepsy in children and adults.

GABA(A) receptors are made up of five subunits--proteins that play important roles in brain development and in controlling brain activity. Previous animal research by Dr. Brooks-Kayal's group had found that rats with epilepsy had lower levels of the alpha1 subunits of these receptors and higher levels of alpha4 subunits. Therefore, the researchers used gene delivery to alter the expression of the alpha1 subunit to see if this would have an effect on later seizure development.

To carry the gene that alters the expression of the protein, they used an adeno-associated virus vector, injected into the rats' brains. The researchers later injected the rats with pilocarpine, a drug that causes status epilepticus (SE), a convulsive seizure, shortly after injection.

They then evaluated the rats for later development of spontaneous seizures or epilepsy, which usually occurs after an initial SE injury. Rats that had received the gene therapy had elevated levels of alpha1 proteins and either did not develop spontaneous seizures, or took three times as long to experience a spontaneous seizure, compared to rats that did not receive the delivered gene.

In this short-term study, said Dr. Brooks-Kayal, it was impossible to tell whether the increased alpha1 subunit levels were only suppressing seizures or whether they would permanently prevent epilepsy from developing.

"In people, an initial episode of SE or an injury such as severe head trauma is known to raise the risk of later developing epilepsy, so this study suggests that strategies aimed at modifying signaling pathways in the brain after such an insult may help prevent epilepsy," said Dr. Brooks-Kayal. "The approach would likely be different than in this proof-of-concept animal study that involved injecting agents directly into the brain. This study, does, however, lay the foundation for a potential drug therapy that might act on the same signaling pathways, to prevent epilepsy after a brain insult such as an episode of SE."


###
The National Institutes of Health and the American Epilepsy Society provided grant support that funded this study. The first author on the study was YogendraSinh H. Raol, Ph.D., of Children's Hospital. Other co-authors were John Wolfe, V.M.D., Ph.D., and Ingrid V. Lund of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Children's Hospital; Guojun Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of Children's Hospital; and Sabita Bandyopadhyay and Daniel S. Roberts, Ph.D., of Boston University School of Medicine.

About The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking third in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 430-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit http://www.chop.edu
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
adedios
SuperPoster


Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 5060
Location: Angel C. de Dios

PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:50 pm    Post subject: No more seizures? New drug holds promise for epilepsy patien Reply with quote

American Academy of Neurology
5 February 2007

No more seizures? New drug holds promise for epilepsy patients

ST. PAUL, Minn – People with newly diagnosed epilepsy experienced few, if any, seizures while taking the drug levetiracetam as a single therapy, giving hope to epilepsy patients who don't respond to or can't tolerate existing treatments, according to a study published in the February 6, 2007 issue of Neurology®, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the multi-center, double-blind study, researchers assigned nearly 600 adults who had at least two seizures in the previous year to the drug levetiracetam or to controlled-release carbamazepine, a common epilepsy treatment. While levetiracetam is currently used as an add-on therapy by epilepsy patients, this is the first time its effectiveness as a single therapy has been tested through a clinical trial that provided class 1 evidence of efficacy as defined by the International League Against Epilepsy.

The study found 73 percent of people taking levetiracetam and 72.8 percent of people receiving controlled-release carbamazepine remained seizure free for at least six months.

"Both drugs produced equivalent seizure freedom rates in newly diagnosed epilepsy. Levetiracetam helps fill a need for safe and well-tolerated, easy-to-use epilepsy drugs, particularly because more than 30 percent of patients do not achieve seizure control with existing treatments," said study author Martin Brodie, MD, with the Western Infirmary Epilepsy Unit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Of those remaining seizure free for six months, the study also found 80.1 percent of those taking levetiracetam and 85.4 percent of those taking carbamazepine did so at the lowest dose level.

"This trial confirms previous uncontrolled observations that most people with epilepsy will respond to their first epilepsy drug at low dosage," said Brodie.

Researchers say 14.4 percent of people taking levetiracetam withdrew from the study because of side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness, while 19.2 percent of people taking carbamazepine withdrew from the study with rash being the most common side effect.


###
The study was supported by UCB Pharma.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 20,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Parkinson's disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), dementia, West Nile virus, and ataxia.

For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit www.aan.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
adedios
SuperPoster


Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 5060
Location: Angel C. de Dios

PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:18 am    Post subject: Rare cell prevents rampant brain activity Reply with quote

Karolinska Institutet
2 March 2007

Rare cell prevents rampant brain activity

One of the mysteries of the brain is how it avoids ending up in a state of chaos, something which happens only on exceptional occasions, when it can lead to epileptic fits. Scientists at Karolinska Institutet have now uncovered a new mechanism controlling how the brain keeps its neuronal activity in check.

The human brain consists of around a hundred million nerve cells linked together by around ten billion contact junctions called synapses. The activity of this extremely complex network is regulated through a dynamic balance between excitatory signals, which are transmitted by one type of synapse, and inhibitory counter-signals, which are transmitted by another.

An imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory activity is associated with diseases such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, and anxiety. But despite the fact that excitatory synapses are much more common than their inhibitory counterparts, the system is generally kept in a state of equilibrium. Just how the brain manages this feat is a puzzle to scientists.

Scientists at Karolinska Institutet and the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland have now discovered a mechanism that might explain how the most common type of neuron in the cerebral cortex the pyramid cell is prevented from becoming over-activated. Their results show that a rarer cell type that links collections of pyramid cells called a Martinotti cell acts as a kind of safety device. When a Martinotti cell receives signals above a certain frequency, it responds by sending back inhibitory signals that moderate surrounding pyramid cells.

Gilad Silberberg, one of the researchers behind the study, believes that the mechanism is essential to understanding brain disorders like epilepsy.

"A characteristic feature of epilepsy is the hyperactivation of cortical pyramid cells, which is exactly what this mechanism inhibits. It is possible that epilepsy is related to a deficit of Martinotti cells or a deficiency of Martinotti activity in the brain."


###
Publication:

"Disynaptic inhibition between neocortical pyramidal cells mediated by Martinotti cells"
Gilad Silberberg & Henry Markram
Neuron, 1 March 2007

For further information, contact:

Gilad Silberberg The Department of Neuroscience Tel: +46 (0)8-524 878 86 or +46 (0)70 4242 592 (mobile) Email: gilad.silberberg@ki.se

Karolinska Institutet is one of the leading medical universities in Europe. Through research, education and information, Karolinska Institutet contributes to improving human health. Each year, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awards the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. For more information, visit ki.se
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
adedios
SuperPoster


Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 5060
Location: Angel C. de Dios

PostPosted: Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:43 am    Post subject: Toothbrushing Can Trigger Epileptic Seizures Reply with quote

Toothbrushing Can Trigger Epileptic Seizures

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter
posted: 06 March 2007
02:22 pm ET

(HealthDay News) -- In some people with epilepsy, brushing their teeth may stimulate a certain area of the brain and cause seizures, Australian researchers report.

"The rhythmic act of brushing teeth may excite an already overly excitable area of the brain. This is similar to photosensitive epilepsy, which involves seizures triggered by flashing lights and moving patterns," study author Wendyl D'Souza, with the department of neurology and neurological research at St. Vincent's Hospital, University of Melbourne, said in a prepared statement.

For the full article:

http://www.livescience.com/healthday/602477.html
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
adedios
SuperPoster


Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 5060
Location: Angel C. de Dios

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 2:43 pm    Post subject: Anti-dandruff compound may help fight epilepsy Reply with quote

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
27 April 2007

Anti-dandruff compound may help fight epilepsy

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered that the same ingredient used in dandruff shampoos to fight the burning, itching and flaking on your head also can calm overexcited nerve cells inside your head, making it a potential treatment for seizures. Results of the study can be found online in Nature Chemical Biology.

Epilepsy and other seizure disorders result when nerves excessively or inappropriately fire in the brain. The brains off switches fail in part due to protein defects that prevent potassium from exiting nerve cells and calming them. Channels that carry potassium, says Min Li, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, must open on cue to make sure nerve cells only fire for defined periods of time.

In their studies of these channels, Li and his colleagues developed a new way of testing thousands of druglike molecules to find any that could turn the potassium switch on or off. Their approach involved chemically shaving off all the potassium channels on the cell surface and forcing the cells to make new channels. By measuring the activity of the new channels, the researchers could identify molecules that accelerated the recovery.

One chemical that proved quite effective in improving channel recovery was zinc pyrithione (ZnPy), the active ingredient in many dandruff shampoos. Li explains that ZnPy has a shape that allows it to fit into the gate region of the channel protein and allow more potassium flow. If you think of these channels as doors on the cells surface, Li says, then ZnPy made this door both easier to open and stay open longer. Its like a tunable hinge that helps sticky doors swing freely.

The researchers then tested defective channels that contain the same mutations known in humans to cause mild epilepsy-like seizures in infants. Bathing cells with small amounts of ZnPy caused the mutant potassium channels to let three times as much potassium flow through, raising the possibility of restoring normal nerve cell activity.

Most drug discoveries uncover chemicals that stop things from working - its a lot easier to close or block a door than open it, Li says. But here we found a chemical that makes a defective protein work better. So now we have a chance to actually try to fix the causes of epilepsy, rather than traditionally circumventing them. Plus, this study really shows that we dont fully appreciate the biological roles of many familiar chemicals that surround us.


###
The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Authors on the paper are Qiaojie Xiong, Haiyan Sun and Min Li, all of Johns Hopkins.

On the Web:
http://neuroscience.jhu.edu/index.php
www.nature.com/neuro
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
adedios
SuperPoster


Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 5060
Location: Angel C. de Dios

PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 9:22 am    Post subject: Damping the odds that fireworks will spark seizures Reply with quote

University of Rochester Medical Center
3 July 2007

Damping the odds that fireworks will spark seizures

Bright light that flickers frequently or rapidly, like a strobe light, can trigger seizures in some people a phenomenon documented in nearly 700 children who were hospitalized in Japan 10 years ago after watching a Pokemon cartoon. The condition is much on the mind of a neurologist specializing in seizure disorders as the 4th of July holiday with all its fireworks approaches.

While Giuseppe Erba, M.D., is not aware of any instance where fireworks have actually caused a person to have a seizure, the physician at the University of Rochester Medical Center says that a few people who are extremely sensitive to flashing light might be at risk during holiday celebrations this week, and he recommends a few precautions.

Like many seizure specialists, Erba treats patients with photosensitivity an extreme sensitivity to bright, rapidly flickering light that is experienced by some patients with epilepsy and a few otherwise healthy people. In 2004 he led an international committee on behalf of the Epilepsy Foundation that established standards for the video gaming industry to help prevent seizures among gamers, and recently he explained how an animation of a diver used last month to publicize the upcoming 2012 Olympic games in London can cause seizures.

In most people, the brain is able to handle the flood of visual information presented by rapidly flashing lights and repeating patterns. But in some people, the extra stimulation floods the brain and sends cells called neurons into a frenzy in which they fire uncontrollably, causing seizures. The phenomenon can occur when people watch TV, play video games, dance at a concert or club, or even ride in a car, when they are exposed to rapidly flickering light coming through the trees as the car moves along.

Those at risk include people with epilepsy and relatives of people who have been diagnosed by a doctor as being photosensitive. Erba said that the phenomenon tends to run in families, and children in such families are most vulnerable. Doctors estimate that about three to five percent of people with epilepsy may be photosensitive, although they may never have a seizure caused by lights unless they are exposed to strong, provocative stimuli. As a result, many are at risk without knowing it, Erba said.

For the Fourth of July holiday, Erba offers these tips for high-risk people:


Cover one eye during the final barrage of fireworks. That reduces the amount of visual information flooding the brain and is usually enough to prevent seizures among photosensitive patients, while still allowing them to enjoy the fireworks.
Dont get too close to a big fireworks display. People who are sensitive to light should keep bright flickering lights like fireworks to less than half of what their eyes see at any one moment.
Get your sleep. Fatigue and sleep deprivation can make people more susceptible.
Patients with epilepsy should be sure to take their medication on schedule before viewing fireworks. One common medication, divalproex sodium, also known as Depakote and available in generic form as well, reduces photosensitivity in people with epilepsy very effectively, Erba said. Among people with epilepsy, photosensitivity is most common in adolescents with a form known as juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.
Anyone who begins to feel their body jerking while watching fireworks should cover both eyes immediately. Unlike most seizures, Erba said, those caused by photosensitivity can be stopped once theyve begun by cutting off the visual input within one or two seconds.

The message certainly is not to discourage people from watching fireworks and enjoying the displays, said Erba, a professor of Neurology and of Pediatrics who treats seizure patients at Strong Memorial Hospital and at Golisano Childrens Hospital at Strong. But people at risk should take proper precautions. Children are much more photosensitive, so parents of children in families who have relatives that have had seizures or epilepsy should be extra vigilant.

###
People who would like more information on the condition can consult a column written by Erba, a member of the Epilepsy Foundations professional advisory board, at http://www.epilepsyfoundation......060306.cfm
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
adedios
SuperPoster


Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 5060
Location: Angel C. de Dios

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:13 am    Post subject: The future of medicine -- Insert chip, cure disease? Reply with quote

University of Florida
25 July 2007

The future of medicine -- Insert chip, cure disease?


Imagine a chip, strategically placed in the brain, that could prevent epileptic seizures or allow someone who has lost a limb to control an artificial arm just by thinking about it.

It may sound like science fiction, but University of Florida researchers are developing devices that can interpret signals in the brain and stimulate neurons to perform correctly, advances that might someday make it possible for a tiny computer to fix diseases or even allow a paralyzed person to control a prosthetic device with his thoughts.

Armed with a $2.5 million grant they received this year from the National Institutes of Health, UF researchers from the College of Medicine, the College of Engineering and the McKnight Brain Institute have teamed up to create a "neuroprosthetic" chip designed to be implanted in the brain. They are currently studying the concept in rats but are aiming to develop a prototype of the device within the next four years that could be tested in people.

The initial goal? To correct conditions such as paralysis or epilepsy.

"We really feel like if we can do this, we'll have the technology to offer new options for patients," said Justin Sanchez, Ph.D., director of the UF Neuroprosthetics Research Group and an assistant professor of pediatric neurology, neuroscience and biomedical engineering. "There's kind of a revolution going on right now in the neurosciences and biomedical engineering. People are trying to take engineering approaches for directly interfacing with the brain.

"The hope is we can cure more immediately a variety of diseases."

Researchers have been able to decode brain activity for years using electroencephalography. Referred to commonly as an EEG, this technology involves placing a sensor-wired net over the head to measure brain activity through the scalp. But the technology wasn't quite sensitive enough to allow researchers to decode brain signals as precisely as needed, Sanchez said. Now researchers are focusing on decoding signals from electrodes placed directly into the brain tissue using wires the width of a strand of hair.

"(Scientists have) realized that by going inside the brain we can capture so much more information, we can have much more resolution," Sanchez said.

The chip UF researchers are seeking to develop would be implanted directly into the brain tissue, where it could gather data from signals, decode them and stimulate the brain in a self-contained package without wires. In the interim, UF researchers are studying implantable devices in rats and are evaluating an intermediate form of the technology - placing electrodes on the surface of the brain - in people.

UF researchers have developed new techniques using surface electrodes to access signals almost as precisely as they could with sensors implanted in the brain, according to findings the researchers published in May in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods. Developing these techniques is a big step forward in understanding how to best decode a patient's intent from their brain waves and should have broad implications for delivering therapy, Sanchez said.

To gather data about the brain's sophisticated cues, which vary from person to person, Sanchez studies the brain signals of children with epilepsy who are scheduled to undergo surgery to remove the part of the brain that is causing seizures. These patients often must be monitored for several days to weeks with electrodes placed directly on the brain. Doctors use this to pinpoint the problem area when a child has another seizure.

Because the children already have electrodes in place, Sanchez is able to use the data gathered from them to understand more about the brain's signals in general.

UF researchers are also working on intermediate concepts that could be wearable, like a diabetes pump, Sanchez said.

"We have intermediate designs that connect to the brain, interpret signals and can wirelessly send commands to devices," he said. "This is another path of technology we're pursuing."

To create these technologies, Sanchez is in the process of developing a center for brain-machine interfaces at UF with faculty from the College of Engineering, including Jose C. Principe, Ph.D.; John G. Harris, Ph.D.; Toshikazu Nishida, Ph.D.; and Rizwan Bashirullah, Ph.D.

But several challenges face researchers in bringing these technologies to patients, said Steven J. Schiff, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of engineering and neuroscience at The Pennsylvania State University and director of the Penn State Center for Neural Engineering.

For patients with epilepsy, who often have to take several medications or undergo surgery for relief from debilitating seizures, a neuroprosthetic device could be the best form of treatment, Schiff said, adding that more work needs to be done to understand the mechanics of what causes diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson's.

"The challenge is not so much the technology," Schiff said. "The challenge is to use that technology wisely."

The day may not be too far off when patients can control a prosthetic hand or leg just by thinking about it, Sanchez said.

"It's becoming a reality," Sanchez said. "We're designing electronics that we can interface with biological systems and we can use that to help people."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic   printer-friendly view    USAP PAETE Forum Index -> Science Lessons Forum All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You can post new topics in this forum
You can reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group