Grant round winners 2012

Approximately one-third of people with epilepsy do not respond to anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), and at present there are currently no ways of predicting whether an AEDwill be effective. Professor John Terry, at the University of Exeter, and colleagues have recently been awarded £139,595, over 36 months, to carry out a project entitled ‘Developing computer models to improve the predictive value of routine clinical EEG’, in which they will address this issue.  

During the study, the team will use complex computer models of brain networks to investigate whether routine electroencephalogram (EEG) can be used to predict the best treatment for people with idiopathic generalised epilepsy. The group has already used computer models to obtain new information ‘hidden’ within apparently normal EEGs, which can reveal how brain networks are connected, and can also help to differentiate (over a short reading) people who are seizure-free from those whose seizures are recurring.

Professor Terry and his colleagues will now use an existing collection of EEG recordings, along with accompanying information on response to treatment, to refine their current computer models. By the end of the project, they hope that the models will be able to accurately identify epilepsy types and likely seizure frequencies, and predict a person’s response to AEDs, based on set parameters in their EEG readings.

If successful, this project could potentially revolutionise the treatment of epilepsy, by allowing doctors to administer the most appropriate therapy as early as possible. Prompt, appropriate treatment as a matter of course would dramatically improve the quality of life of people with this condition.