Epilepsy Foundation has awarded a $3 million grant to an international team of researchers to evaluate biosensors that can track an individual’s physiology, behavior, and environment to enhance prediction of epileptic seizures.
Scientists from King’s College London, Mayo Clinic, Seer Medical and The University of Melbourne will evaluate biosensors in a range of commercially available devices. To better understand changes in the body that induce seizure activity, the researchers will collect data from people with epilepsy wearing an implanted device that measures brain activity, such as ECG devices.
Worldwide, more than 65 million people are living with epilepsy. Among them, 30 to 40% do not have the ability to control their seizures with available treatments. Many are at constant fear because they don’t know when to stay at a safer place before seizure strikes.
“Unpredictability, not knowing when or why a seizure starts, is a major challenge for those living with epilepsy,” said Sonya Dumanis, Ph.D., senior director of innovation, Epilepsy Foundation. “Leveraging the exciting research coming out of the seizure forecasting field, emerging wearable technologies and machine learning approaches, we believe we have a unique opportunity to create an individualized seizure gauge that will allow a person with epilepsy to monitor the likelihood of a seizure on a daily basis.”
The foundation’s My Seizure Gauge Challenge was launched in October 2017 by its own Epilepsy Innovation Institute following a workshop assessing the science behind seizure forecasting. During the collaborative workshop, clinicians, data scientists, and pharma/device companies reviewed feedback from people living with epilepsy and their families and decided to take on seizure prediction as their first innovation project.
Jacqueline French, M.D., chief scientific officer at the Epilepsy Foundation and professor of neurology at NYU Langone Health’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, said the initiative will lay the groundwork for people with epilepsy to know more about seizure before it hits them. “This knowledge can empower people to feel more in control of their lives, take action to stop a seizure before it starts, and may help to explain why certain environments or states may trigger a seizure in an individual. It may also aid in developing personalized medication dosing and device stimulation to reduce side effects,” she said.
Epilepsy: Quick Facts
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes epilepsy as the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. In the United States, there are about 3.4 million people affected by epilepsy, according to the CDC. Epilepsy can be caused by different conditions that affect a person’s brain such as, stroke, brain tumor, traumatic brain injury and central nervous system infection.