Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders which affects millions of people worldwide. Although treatment with medication is helpful in 70% of the cases, serious side effects affect the quality of life of patients. Moreover, a high percentage of epileptic patients are drug resistant; in their case, neurosurgery or neurostimulation are necessary. Therefore, the major goal of epilepsy research is to discover new therapies which are either capable of curing epilepsy without side effects or preventing recurrent seizures in drug-resistant patients. Neuroengineering provides new approaches by using novel strategies and technologies to find better solutions to cure epileptic patients at risk.
As a demonstration of a novel experimental protocol in an acute mouse model of epilepsy, a direct in situ electrophoretic drug delivery system is used. Namely, a neural probe incorporating a microfluidic ion pump (µFIP) for on-demand drug delivery and simultaneous recording of local neural activity is implanted and demonstrated to be capable of controlling 4-aminopyridine-induced (4AP-induced) seizure-like event (SLE) activity. The γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) concentration is kept in the physiological range by the precise control of GABA delivery to reach an antiepileptic effect in the seizure focus but not to cause overinhibition-induced rebound bursts. The method allows both the detection of pathological activity and intervention to stop seizures by delivering inhibitory neurotransmitters directly to the epileptic focus with precise spatiotemporal control.
As a result of the developments to the experimental method, SLEs can be induced in a highly localized manner that allows seizure control by the precisely tuned GABA delivery at the seizure onset.