New scanning techniques could stop epileptic seizures
19 February 2001
A project funded by leading medical research charity Action Research is offering fresh hope to thousands of epilepsy suffers by developing new techniques to examine the brain and pinpoint the site at which seizures start.
The work is being featured in two parts on BBC1’s Tomorrow’s World programme on Wednesday (21.02.01 & 28.02.01). Epilepsy affects 350,000 people in the UK and every day about 80 people suddenly discover they have epilepsy when they are struck by their first seizure.
If medication fails to control seizures, surgery may cure the epilepsy providing the part of the brain responsible can be pinpointed. Current brain scans using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) do not give this information in a quarter of this patient group.
The Action Research team is developing several new ways to examine the brain with MRI scans to identify the sites at which epileptic seizures start, that have been undetectable up to now. This would then make surgery that could cure the epilepsy possible.
The project is being undertaken at the MRI Unit, National Society for Epilepsy, Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire, in conjunction with the Epilepsy Research Group, Institute of Neurology of University College London, and has received funding of almost £280,000.
The research is led by Professor John Duncan, who puts into perspective the value of the work that he and his team are undertaking: “Epilepsy is the most common serious disease of the brain, and costs the UK £2000 million per year. Epileptic seizures can result in injury and have a profound effect on a person’s well being, activities, social life and job prospects. For those whose seizures are not controlled with medication, surgical treatment can offer the chance of a cure and transformation of life for the better.”
He added: “The support of Action Research, over the last decade, for our programme of brain imaging research has been fundamental in being able to offer this surgery to many more individuals with epilepsy than was previously possible.”
A free epilepsy leaflet is available from Action Research, Vincent House, North Parade, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 2DP or by e-mailing email@example.com
For further information contact Duncan Barkes or Nicole Duckworth in the press office on 01403 327404/3.
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