Mayo Clinic and partners from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Pharmacy, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and NeuroVista Corporation have been awarded a $7.5 million grant (U01) from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The research involves studying new ways to predict and control epileptic seizures in dogs and people.
Epilepsy affects approximately 1 percent of the human population, with an estimated 50 million people worldwide currently suffering from the disorder. The hallmark of epilepsy is the seizure ― a sudden and often violent event that strikes patients without warning. The goal of the research is to use information gleaned from real-time electroencephalograms (EEG) to consistently detect impending seizures, and develop methods of preventing these seizures through use of fast-acting drug therapies.
“Our goal is reliable seizure forecasting in conjunction with timely, effective short-term intervention, and this could lead to more effective treatment for both canine and human epilepsy,” says Greg Worrell M.D., a neurologist at Mayo Clinic.
NeuroVista has developed an implantable device system that continuously collects and analyzes EEG data to detect impending seizures. The system uses an external patient-carried device with a very simple interface―three colored lights―to indicate the risk of an impending seizure to the patient. The NIH-funded research will involve applying this technology to dogs with naturally occurring epilepsy, and extending the technology by using it to guide the administration of fast-acting drugs to prevent seizures. It is hoped that this work will translate to a similar solution for human patients.
In this video, a handler tries to comfort a dog suffering a seizure. Epilepsy is a common neurologic diseases in dogs. According to the Canine Epilepsy Network, some studies estimate up to 4% of all dogs are affected, and in some breeds, the incidence may be higher.