Neurologist Receives Award to Study Cell-Based Epilepsy Treatment

Feb 11 2014

Neurologist Receives Award to Study Cell-Based Epilepsy Treatment

160248924The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Ethan Goldberg, MD, PhD, recently received an award from the epilepsy advocacy organization Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE) to study using transplanted cells to treat epilepsy. Dr. Goldberg was one of three researchers to receive a “Taking Flight” award, a one-year grant of up to $100,000 designed to “promote the careers of young investigators and support them as they develop an independent research focus,” according to CURE.

A brain disorder marked by seizures of varying intensity and type, epilepsy affects approximately 2 million Americans. And per the CDC, roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population — around 31 million people — will experience a seizure during their lifetime. Seizures associated with epilepsy range from short absence seizures to generalized tonic clonic, or grand mal, seizures. These whole body seizures involve loss of consciousness, incontinence, and potentially violent convulsions.

While its cause is sometimes unknown, epilepsy can be brought on by an injury or a medical condition, such as a brain tumor or infection. Though there is no cure for epilepsy, about 70 percent of those who have the disease can have their seizures controlled with medication, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. But for many, epilepsy is a lifelong condition.

CURE was founded by parents of children with epilepsy to “spearhead the search for a cure” by raising money to support epilepsy research. Dr. Goldberg’s project is an investigation of using “specific, defined subtypes of cortical interneuron precursors to treat epilepsy and its comorbidities in an experimental model of acquired chronic temporal lobe epilepsy.” Dr. Goldberg has been working with Children’s Hospital’s Stewart A. Anderson, MD, Associate Professor and Research Director of Child Psychiatry at CHOP, as well Jennifer Tyson, a graduate student in Dr. Anderson’s laboratory.

With this investigation, the researchers hope to discover novel treatments for forms of epilepsy that are resistant to standard medication.

“A large component of our epilepsy practice here at CHOP is the care of patients with severe, medically intractable epilepsy, either acquired epilepsy secondary to brain injury or due to a genetic cause,” said Dr. Goldberg. “Cell-based therapies offer hope of a future cure for our patients who are in greatest need, although significant additional basic science research is required to realize this potential. This generous grant from CURE will greatly assist in getting this project off the ground and pushing it forward.”

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a robust epilepsy treatment and research program. Part of Children’s Hospital’s Division of Neurology, the Pediatric Regional Epilepsy Program’s multidisciplinary team of clinicians, nurse practitioners, and researchers works with families to design personalized treatment plans that best control epilepsy with as few side effect as possible.

To learn more about the Pediatric Regional Epilepsy Program, see the Hospital’s website.