Challenge Awards, Funded by the Heldman Family/CURE Award

New Treatments For Epilepsy That Regulate Complement Activity

Robert Fujinami, PhD
University of Utah

Virus infections causing inflammation in the brain frequently induce seizures. We have developed a new model where virus infection of mice results in acute seizures. About a month after infection the virus is cleared from all tissues. Interestingly, after a variable period where no seizures are observed, animals develop recurrent spontaneous seizures (epilepsy). This is the first infection driven model of epilepsy. It is becoming clear that inflammation in the brain contributes to seizures. A participant in inflammation in the brain is the complement system. This system is enhanced in the brains of individuals with epilepsy. We propose to test the hypothesis that virus infection activates the complement system in the brain that in turn increases inflammation which ultimately contributes to the development of seizures. Novel therapies that inhibit complement activation will be tested to ascertain their ability to block the initiation of seizures and/or treat epilepsy once it has started.


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