Andrew Trevelyan

PROJECT GRANT
£147,334 over 24 months
Awarded in
2015

SCIENTIFIC TITLE

The homeostasis-conflict hypothesis of epileptogenesis

LEAD INVESTIGATOR

Professor Andy Trevelyan

CO-INVESTIGATORS

Dr Ryley Parrish, Dr Claudia Racca, and Dr Simon Cockell

INSTITUTION

Newcastle University

This project has enabled us to further extend our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms by which seizures develop, and how the brain networks respond to these extreme periods of activity. We have uncovered important regulatory pathways which we hope will open up new avenues for treating the condition.
Professor Andy Trevelyan

In some cases of brain injury such as stroke, or brain trauma, people will go on to develop epilepsy. We know a little about how this happens – it can involve the death of brain cells and other rewiring of the circuits in the brain, as well as changes in which proteins are made by the brain cells, which in turn affects their function.

However, we don’t understand how or why these changes happen, and more particularly how they might be prevented to stop epilepsy developing. This project aimed to explore how a brain injury can lead to changes in how brain cells function. The research team discovered a notable feature of the rewiring, which is that one particular type of brain cell, the pyramidal cell, dictates what changes are made to the network. High levels of pyramidal activity lead to a reduction in levels of a specific protein that is important for brain cell inhibition, whereas low levels of pyramidal activity cause the opposite change – an increase in these inhibitory proteins.

Professor Trevelyan and colleagues believe this may provide a means to understand the complexity of the brain changes that are associated with the development of epilepsy, and perhaps even a means to prevent it from happening.

On a personal level, the funding was also critical in allowing me to keep a key member of my research team, Dr Ryley Parrish. It is incredibly helpful for the research if we can maintain a research team together, because research is a slow process, and requires committed people who have been trained over many years. Only then can we start to make real inroads into understanding this difficult and complex condition.
Professor Andy Trevelyan