Neuroscientists Create Fiber-Optic Method of Arresting Epileptic Seizures
New approach holds promise of better treatment options for severe episodes
UC Irvine neuroscientists have developed a way to stop epileptic seizures with fiber-optic light signals, heralding a novel opportunity to treat the most severe manifestations of the brain disorder.
Using a mouse model of temporal lobe epilepsy, Ivan Soltesz, Chancellor’s Professor and chair of anatomy & neurobiology, and colleagues created an EEG-based computer system that activates hair-thin optical strands implanted in the brain when it detects a real-time seizure.
These fibers subsequently “turn on” specially expressed, light-sensitive proteins called opsins, which can either stimulate or inhibit specific neurons in select brain regions during seizures, depending on the type of opsin.
The researchers found that this process was able to arrest ongoing electrical seizure activity and reduce the incidence of severe “tonic-clonic” events.