impact report 2014 - research
Our work in epilepsy research received a boost this year when we were ranked as world leaders in the field
A world without epilepsy is the driving force behind our research. There are positive signs that genetics may be the key to seizure freedom in the future.
Our research centre is integrated with our medical centre and MRI unit – and our researchers see patients on a daily basis. They see for themselves the toll of epilepsy and this adds a real urgency to our work.
Recent technological advances have accelerated our progress – and in 2014 we have taken delivery of some of the most cutting edge technology to help us unravel the biology of epilepsy.
In the laboratory the installation of a DNA sequencer means we are able to map the genomic sequence of a patient rapidly and efficiently.
For the first time DNA sequencing is being used alongside existing tests such as MRI and EEG.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is being used as a research tool to look at brain excitability in people with epilepsy. Our 3D imaging camera is helping us to explore the link between face shape and genetic variations which lead to epilepsy and using optical coherence tomography we are able to look at the thickness of retinal fibres at the back of the eye in relation to epilepsy severity, duration, drug resistance and epileptogenic focus.
It is nearly 20 years since we installed our first MRI scanner – recently updated to generate the most advanced images of the brain - optimising the safety and success of neurosurgery.
Our brain tissue potentially holds the answers to many of the questions we are asking about epilepsy. Epilepsy Society’s Brain and Tissue Bank was set up early in 2014 and is the first facility of its kind dedicated to epilepsy. We hope it will accelerate the development of new treatments and cures. Based at UCL’s Institute of Neurology it is led by Dr Maria Thom and her research team who have recently received a share of $6 million of US funding towards increasing the understanding of epilepsy related deaths.