LANDOVER, Md., Oct. 10, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --Today, the Epilepsy Foundation announced it has awarded a $3 million grant to an international team of scientists, researchers and interoperability experts to evaluate biosensors that can track an individual's physiology, behavior, and environment to improve seizure prediction. Team members from King's College London, Mayo Clinic, and Seer Medical/The University of Melbourne will evaluate biosensors in a range of commercially available devices. The team will recruit, and collect data from, people with epilepsy who have received an implanted device that can measure brain activity — such as electroencephalogram (EEG) devices — to better understand changes in the body that induce or allow for seizure activity. The team receiving the grant was selected following a seven-month-long, peer-reviewed process. The ultimate goal of this award is to definitively assess the types of measurements that are needed for a reliable seizure forecasting prototype device.
More than 65 million people around the world live with epilepsy, and 30 to 40 percent of people with epilepsy are not able to control their seizures with available treatments. For many, the constant fear of when a seizure will strike and the risk of injury and death because they cannot get to safety greatly diminish their quality of life.
"Unpredictability, not knowing when or why a seizure starts, is a major challenge for those living with epilepsy," said Sonya Dumanis, Ph.D., senior director of innovation, Epilepsy Foundation. "Leveraging the exciting research coming out of the seizure forecasting field, emerging wearable technologies and machine learning approaches, we believe we have a unique opportunity to create an individualized seizure gauge that will allow a person with epilepsy to monitor the likelihood of a seizure on a daily basis."
The Epilepsy Foundation's Epilepsy Innovation Institute launched the My Seizure Gauge Challenge in October 2017 following a workshop that discussed and assessed the state of the science behind seizure forecasting. During the collaborative workshop, clinicians, engineers, data scientists, and pharma/device companies reviewed feedback from people living with epilepsy and their families and decided to take on seizure prediction as their first innovation project.
"The My Seizure Gauge initiative lays the groundwork for a person with epilepsy to know when a seizure is likely or unlikely," said Jacqueline French, M.D., chief scientific officer at the Epilepsy Foundation and professor of neurology at NYU Langone Health's Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. "This knowledge can empower people to feel more in control of their lives, take action to stop a seizure before it starts, and may help to explain why certain environments or states may trigger a seizure in an individual. It may also aid in developing personalized medication dosing and device stimulation to reduce side effects."
In the initial phase of the award, the team will evaluate biosensors that can track an individual's physiology, behavior and environment from a range of commercially available devices. Following testing, the team will select up to three peripheral sensors to move forward for seizure forecast testing in year two. People with epilepsy will be pairing the peripheral sensors selected with their already implanted EEG recording devices. The EEG system used will depend on the recruitment site: King's College London (UNEEG ambulatory subscalp EEG), Mayo Clinic (Medtronic RC+S intracranial device), and the Seer Medical/The University of Melbourne (Seer Medical ambulatory video EEG, SeerGP app, and subscalp EEG)*. The vision is to measure a few components along with myriad factors, and then mine the data for new clues about what happens in the body in the hours and minutes before a seizure. Once the data has been collected it will be shared with the research community through crowd-sourcing platforms to facilitate algorithm development.
The Epilepsy Innovation Institute is an innovation incubator, tackling high-risk, high-reward projects through a series of million-dollar challenges. Each challenge is focused on "beginning-to-end solutions" directed toward specific patient-centered challenges and carried out by multi-disciplinary solution teams. For more information about the My Seizure Gauge initiative, please go to Epilepsy.com/myseizuregauge.
*Some of the sensors and ambulatory EEG systems being tested were previously supported by early commercialization grants by the Epilepsy Foundation.
According to the World Health Organization, epilepsy is the most common serious brain disorder worldwide with no age, racial, social class, national or geographic boundaries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that 3.4 million people in the United States are affected by epilepsy. It is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce seizures which are sudden abnormal bursts of electrical energy that disrupt brain functions.
About the Epilepsy Foundation
With a network of nearly 50 partners throughout the United States, the Foundation connects people to treatment, support and resources; leads advocacy efforts; funds innovative research and the training of specialists; and educates the public about epilepsy and seizure first aid. For more than five decades, the Epilepsy Foundation has shone a light on epilepsy to promote awareness and understanding, and to advocate for laws that matter to people with epilepsy, while also funding $65 million for epilepsy research and supporting 3,076 epilepsy investigators and specialists in their early careers. Over the past 17 years, in partnership with the CDC, the Epilepsy Foundation has helped to improve access to care for people with epilepsy, expanded its digital reach and online resources in homes across the country, and trained more than 500,000 school and community personnel in how to recognize seizures and administer Seizure First Aid. The Foundation has also assisted more than 108,000 people through its 24/7 Helpline in the past five years, and continues to focus on innovation, new therapies, community services, advocacy and education as key priorities. To learn more visit epilepsy.com or call 1.800.332.1000. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE Epilepsy Foundation