Functional Genomics and Neurobiology of Epilepsy:
A Basis for New Therapeutic Strategies
Funded by the European Union Sixth Framework Programme
Project LSH 037315
IBE is one of 29 partners in a major new European research project, involving 13 countries, that will receive significant funding from the European Union over the course of the next four years.
As many as 6 million people in Europe have active epilepsy with associated implications not only for their health but for independent living, education and employment, mobility, relationships, and insurance. The resulting economic burden has been estimated at 18 billion euro annually (European White Paper on Epilepsy 2001). Although the European epileptological community has an important tradition of scientific research, according to the conclusions of the European White Paper on Epilepsy (2001), it lacks central coordination. Epidemiological observations have led to the consensus that genetic factors play a central role, especially in the so-called idiopathic generalized epilepsies, and that maladaptive developmental processes also contribute to epileptogenesis (the development of epilepsy). Precisely what genetic factors are involved, and how they interact with developmental alterations, remains far from established. Moreover, their implication for understanding the principle of drug and other treatments of epilepsy is poorly understood.
EPICURE plans to mobilize the potential synergies of European research groups to find answers to these questions. EPICURE aims in particular to take advantage of the potentially powerful insights into pathophysiological pathways provided by genetics – both by identifying disease-causing genes and by understanding the contribution of candidate genes to pharmacoresistance.
EPICURE will take this forward by studying, at molecular, cellular and network levels, the consequences of mutations in ion channel genes, because these are intimately involved in neuronal signalling and the main targets of antiepileptic medication.
In parallel, EPICURE will examine the plasticity that occurs in the brain and in individual neurons during epileptogenesis. EPICURE will maintain cohesion in this integrated project by following a number of themes that cut across the multidisciplinary approaches, in particular the principle that the membrane channels that determine and make use of Cl- and Na+ ion gradients for their function are central to neuronal excitability, circuit function and treatment with many of the available drugs. This justifies an effort in identifying the full impact of mutations of the underlying genes, establishing the degree to which drugs targeting these processes penetrate the brain, and understanding how the ion gradients in individual cells interact with developmental processes to determine neuronal excitability. In many cases EPICURE will build on existing European collaborative efforts, and in other cases EPICURE will establish links between groups working on common or cognate disciplines.
Project Coordinator: Prof Giuliano Avanzini firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Dissemination: International Bureau for Epilepsy email@example.com
Project Management: CF Consulting carla.finocchiaro@cf?consulting.it
Click here to download the Epicure Press Release, February 2007.
Click here to download the Epicure Press Release, January 2008.
Click here to download the Epicure Flyer from 28th International Epilepsy Congress in Budapest
Visit the EPICURE website to find out more…….