eDocTalk article

Silky smooth brain implants may help stop progression of epilepsy

September 2013

According to a new Legacy Research Institute (LRI) study, silk implants placed in the brain and designed to release a specific chemical, adenosine, may attenuate the progression of epilepsy.

Researchers at LRI, along with Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU) and Tufts University, wanted to see if a therapy they created would stop the progression of epilepsy. Adenosine appears to decrease neuronal excitability and helps stop seizures.

Silk implants

The researchers had developed silk implants for the brain that released a specific amount of adenosine over 10 days. In an earlier study, it was found that the implants were effective in stopping seizures in rats while adenosine was being released. However, in the current study, although adenosine was released from the silk implants for only 10 days, there was reduction in seizure activity in rats for at least three months.

One mechanism involved in epilepsy is an increase in mossy fiber sprouting — the formation of new excitatory circuits in the part of the brain where seizures are thought to originate. At the end of the experiment, animals that had been treated with the adenosine-releasing silk implant showed less sprouting than animals that were not given the drug. "Based on our findings that 10 days of adenosine delivery prevented the sprouting of mossy fibers long-term, for 3 months, we predict a permanent beneficial effect of our adenosine therapy. However, this assumption needs to be validated in long-term experiments that go beyond 3 months," said Detlev Boison, Ph.D., senior author of the paper from LRI and OHSU.

Human trials planned

According to Boison, "LRI is currently in the process of planning first human feasibility and safety trials in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic."

Read the full National Institutes of Health press release on the study, along with links for more information.

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