Catalyst Award

A Gene Therapy Approach to Treating Pharmacoresistant Epilepsy

Suzanne Paradis, PhD
Brandeis University

Neurons form circuits through sites of cell-cell contact called synapses: excitatory synapses promote information flow in circuits while inhibitory synapses prevent it. One way to stop the runaway excitation in neural circuits, that is a hallmark of seizures, is to introduce more inhibition into the circuit. Dr. Paradis and her team discovered a protein called Sema4D (Semaphorin 4D) that rapidly promotes formation of inhibitory synapses. The team will test the safety and efficacy of using gene therapy to deliver Sema4D as a novel therapy for drug-resistant epilepsy. The potential of Sema4D to bypass mechanisms of drug resistance, combined with its potential to treat different seizure types in a minimally invasive fashion has the capability to be a disease-modifying therapy for the treatment of epileptic disorders.