Epilepsy Research UK is proud to announce a partnership with the Medical Research Council (MRC) Nucleic Acid Therapeutics Accelerator (NATA) to co-fund a fellowship investigating pioneering long-term treatments for epilepsy.

What are nucleic acids and why are they relevant for epilepsy?

Nucleic acids are the main information-carrying molecules of the cell and form the building blocks of genetic material such as DNA and RNA. Typically, drugs work by targeting proteins, however nucleic acid therapeutics target the genetic blueprint of a condition. These cause-focussed treatments aim to achieve a long-term solution to lifelong conditions, such as epilepsy.

One in three people living with epilepsy continue to have uncontrolled seizures that do not respond to treatment. Tragically, there are still 21 epilepsy-related deaths every week in the UK. Nucleic acid therapeutics could represent life-saving options for people whose lives are constantly interrupted by seizures.

What is NATA?

The Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (NATA) was founded by the MRC to accelerate the development of these promising new treatments and advance the technology used to manufacture and administer them. The NATA hub is a new unit focussing on the delivery of novel therapies for rare diseases that work by targeting nucleic acids.

What is the aim of this Fellowship Award?

This fellowship award of £250,000 will fund an early-career researcher for two years to investigate the role of nucleic acids in treating epilepsy and become a future leader in this field. The funded project will investigate the use of nucleic acids in treating epilepsy and to become a future leader in this field. The funded project will investigate the development of nucleic acid therapies and their evaluation in cellular and animal models of epilepsy. Importantly, the successful candidate will benefit from the opportunity to spend part of their fellowship working at the NATA Hub and access the world-leading facilities on the Harwell Research Campus.

Of particular interest are applications that combine inter-disciplinary research including chemistry. This funding represents a significant investment that will enable the researcher to develop a track-record in nucleic acid therapeutics and move into research leadership.

We are very excited to be collaborating with the NATA Hub.  This fellowship offers the successful applicant a tremendous opportunity to be part of a centre for innovation that is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies for the development of fundamental nucleic acid chemistry. By joining forces, our ambition is to deliver life-changing therapies to people with epilepsy.

Maxine Smeaton, Chief Executive, Epilepsy Research UK

We are delighted to be partners with Epilepsy Research UK in the co-funding of an Emerging Leader Fellowship in this new and exciting field of therapeutics. NATA is committed to translational research for the benefit of patients – nucleic acid therapies have the potential to significantly improve the management and treatment of epilepsy.

Professor Nick Lench, Executive Director, NATA

For full information on how to apply, visit the Fellowship application page here.