Seizure Disorders

Normal brain function requires an orderly, organized, coordinated discharge of electrical impulses.

Electrical impulses enable the brain to communicate with the spinal cord, nerves, and muscles as well as within itself. Seizures may result when the brain’s electrical activity is disrupted.

Seizure disorders commonly begin in early childhood or in late adulthood. About 2% of adults have a seizure at some time during their life while two thirds of these people never have another one.

There are two types of seizures:

  • Nonepileptic seizures are triggered (provoked) by a reversible disorder or a temporary condition that irritates the brain, such as an infection, a head injury, or a reaction to a drug. In children, a fever can trigger a nonepileptic seizure (called a febrile seizure). Epileptic seizures, conversely, have no apparent trigger and are unprovoked.
  • Epileptic seizures conversely, have no apparent trigger and are unprovoked. Epileptic seizures are referred to as seizure disorders or epilepsy.

Epilepsy is the most common chronic brain disease and affects people of all ages.

More than 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy.  In 2015, 1.2% of the US population or about 3.4 million people―3 million adults and 470,000 children―had active epilepsy.

Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that are brief episodes of involuntary movement.

These seizures are a result of excessive electrical discharges in a group of brain cells, and different parts of the brain can be the site of the discharges. Seizures vary in both severity and in frequency.

One of our research areas is on multiple neuronal dampening mechanisms. More specifically, we are looking at the activation of cys-loop receptors, including GABBA receptors and glycine receptors (allosterically and directly), and the activation of GIRK 1, P2X4, 2 channels and others. Each of these pathways provide inhibitory neurotransmission, which we are exploring to research a multi-mechanism approach in one therapeutic.