Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disorder, affecting 0.7% of the UK population and an estimated 50 million people worldwide. It is not a single disease but rather a collection of syndromes characterised by a predisposition to recurrent unprovoked seizures that arise as a result of excessive and inappropriate hyperexcitability of networks of neurones in the brain.
Only around 70% of epilepsy patients can expect to achieve long-term remission with antiepileptic drug therapy, with the remainder considered to have uncontrolled or refractory epilepsy. In addition, many patients experience side effects from their medication and some suffer acute or chronic adverse reactions. Complete seizure control with no side effects is the ultimate goal of treatment but this is currently achieved by fewer than 50% of people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy research in the Department of Molecular & Clinical Pharmacology covers a broad spectrum, from basic laboratory investigations to patient-focused projects, and addresses some of the most significant issues in epilepsy therapeutics. Experimental studies cover the mechanisms of drug resistance in epilepsy (led by Dr Nasir Mirza) and the pharmacology and pharmacogenomics of epilepsy (led by Dr Graeme Sills). Our more clinically-oriented research involves measuring and modelling treatment outcomes in clinical epilepsy trials (led by Prof Tony Marson), using neuroimaging as a prognostic biomarker in epilepsy (led by Dr Simon Keller), and the study of the long-term psychological consequences of epilepsy and its treatment (led by Prof Gus Baker).
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