Researchers at UTA are conducting a study designing a new technique to identify seizure-inducing regions of children’s brains.
Christos Papadelis, bioengineering professor of research, is studying new treatments for epilepsy with help from doctoral student Ludovica Corona. Their new methods aim to identify which areas of the brain cause a patient’s seizures using noninvasive techniques that don’t require brain surgery.
Epilepsy is estimated to affect approximately 1 in 100 children and adults in the United States, causing clinical seizures and often lowering patients’ quality of everyday life.
Traditionally, the first line of treatment are drugs made to control their seizures, Papadelis said. However, they have a 70% success rate, so approximately 30% of patients require surgery as the next best treatment.
Through these surgeries, doctors try to identify which areas in the brain are responsible for the seizures, Papadelis said.
They then try to resect it in a surgical procedure, and the patient would ideally become seizure-free.
But Papadelis and Corona’s method presents an alternative to surgery. Corona said the term “noninvasive techniques” means they record the electrical activity of the patients without performing invasive surgery.
The data will allow them to identify the functional networks responsible for epilepsy with advanced signal processing, Papadelis said.
One of the new methods has the child wearing a helmet with small coils inside to record brain activity. Corona said they collaborated with Boston Children’s Hospital to analyze the patient’s data.
Corona said the idea for her study started during a 2019 internship in Boston while developing her master’s thesis. She wanted to study functional connectivity, which, according to the Handbook of Clinical Neurology, is “the strength to which activity between a pair of brain regions covaries or correlates over time.”
Corona said she continued the rest of the project at UTA.
This study received funds from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Papadelis said. The same institute supports Papadelis’s research at Cook Children’s Health Care System, a Fort Worth pediatric hospital.
Papadelis said the study was retrospective, meaning all the data analyzed was collected over the past decade. The next step is to use the gathered information to conduct a prospective study, where the data can help plan the surgical treatment of epileptic kids.
When epilepsy is diagnosed early in life, children have to stay on drugs for several years, Papadelis said. The longer the epilepsy is active, the more brain damage it causes, and patients can suffer from depression, intellectual disability and anxiety.
“By using these techniques, we’ll be able to identify the functional networks in the brain which are responsible for the seizures and then provide this information to the epileptologist,” he said. “By doing that, we hope that the kids will become seizure-free.”
Source: theshorthorn.com, Andrea Gonzalez