Epilepsy Foundation and the Epilepsy Therapy Project Award New Therapy Grant
August 19, 2011
The Epilepsy Foundation and The Epilepsy Therapy Project awarded a New Therapy Grant to reduce seizures for people with treatment resistant epilepsy. This grant was awarded to Alexander Rotenberg, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology, Children's Hospital Boston and will support a clinical study to evaluate the repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) H-Coil as a promising non-invasive method of inhibiting the abnormal electrical activity believed to underlie seizures in focal temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). Seizures originating in this part of the brain are often difficult to treat and resistant to existing therapies.
"Temporal lobe epilepsy accounts for nearly 20 percent of all epilepsy and an estimated 70 percent of focal drug resistant epilepsy cases. rTMS is a new therapeutic intervention of immediate importance to patients with poor seizure control," said Dr. Rotenberg. "This award will speed the development of this approach to deep brain stimulation to treat temporal lobe epilepsy."
Dr. Rotenberg's research is based on the premise that rTMS with the H-Coil will generate sufficient magnetic field strength and can safely and effectively stimulate deep brain structures. In addition, it may inhibit the electrical and neurotransmitter activity that underlies seizures in TLE. Their hypothesis is based in part on the encouraging antiepileptic effect of conventional rTMS in other types of epilepsy, and on their animal studies which showed that deeper brain stimulation— or hippocampal stimulation by rTMS— can suppress seizures in rats. The New Therapy Grant will support a clinical study of the H-Coil in children and adults with intractable TLE.
"This innovative cutting-edge study underscores the missions of our two organizations," said Rich Denness, president & CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation. "This kind of translational research transforms scientific concepts into real treatments for real people and can help eliminate seizures and improve the quality of life for people living with epilepsy."
If this study shows the expected effect in seizure control, the H-Coil could rapidly move to commercialization for TLE treatment because it is already marketed for treatment of major depression and other neuropsychiatric syndromes.
"We regard the New Therapy Grants Program as an engine to accelerate the development of the most promising new epilepsy therapies, especially approaches with near-term promise to improve the lives of those with epilepsy," said Warren Lammert, chairman of the Epilepsy Therapy Project.
The New Therapy Grants Program is a joint venture between two nonprofit epilepsy organizations, the Epilepsy Foundation and the Epilepsy Therapy Project. Grants are awarded to support programs that demonstrate promise as new treatments through critical early clinical milestones and readiness for further investment and development. Applications are evaluated by scientific and business advisory board members including experienced clinicians, scientists, investors and pharmaceutical and device industry executives. Awards are given based on the potential to provide substantial benefit in a time frame relevant to people living with epilepsy today. To date, more than 45 grants have been awarded for the advancement of new therapeutics and devices that have demonstrated significant promise in benefitting patients and have potential for future commercialization.