The Epilepsy Research Foundation and The Milken Family Foundation Announce Recipients of Fall 2005 Epilepsy Research Grants

Awards to Accelerate Pioneering Discovery Programs into Clinical Application

Washington, D.C.

The Epilepsy Research Foundation, a collaboration of several non-profit organizations dedicated to the discovery and development of more effective therapies for seizures and epilepsy, as well as finding a cure, today announced three major translational research grants to scientists who are developing novel approaches to seizure prevention based on recent discoveries in brain research. Also today, the Milken Family Foundation, a private philanthropic foundation, announced two grants to accelerate development of novel therapies for the treatment of epilepsy. These research awards are designed to support the understanding of new therapies through laboratory research or early clinical development and are being presented to physicians and scientists actively advancing the research with high-impact, near-term patient benefits. The announcements by representatives of the Epilepsy Therapy Development Project, the Epilepsy Foundation, and Finding a Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures (FACES), as well as the Milken Family Foundation, were made during the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society, the professional organization of epilepsy physicians and scientists convened in Washington, D.C.

"About one third of people with epilepsy or one million men, women and children in the United States face persistent seizures despite all currently available therapies, and many others accept significant side effects as the price for seizure control," said Warren Lammert, a Co-Founder and Chairman of the Epilepsy Therapy Development Project. "Each of today's awards will support new approaches with high potential for providing therapeutic efficacy across a broad spectrum of genetic and acquired forms of epilepsy, including some of the most severe forms of this common neurological disorder."

Among novel pioneering directions represented in the grant projects is the further development of a medication to reverse the seizure provoking potential of a metabolic dysfunction; an implantable electro-therapy with precise energy and timing to terminate seizures; and an international project to secure, evaluate and test herbal-medicine extracts for their potential to prevent seizures.

"The current potential in epilepsy research and convergence of support from organizations with a common goal of eliminating seizures and epilepsy in unprecedented," said Eric R. Hargis, Epilepsy Foundation President and CEO. "Nearly three million people who have epilepsy in the United States and fifty million worldwide stand to benefit from the work of these five grant recipients. We are especially concerned about accelerating efforts to find answers for children with epilepsy and individuals who have intractable seizures."

Recipients of the Fall 2005 Epilepsy Research Foundation Grants

Ivan Osorio, M.D., Department of Neurology, University of Kansas Medical Center, will pursue new research leading to the development of a prototype device that senses the evolving abnormal electrical discharge in the brain associated with seizures and returns it to normal electrical function. Termed "phase resetting" using direct current (DC) stimulation for seizure blockage, this project represents the first use of DC stimulation within the brain as a potential treatment for epilepsy.

Brian Litt, M.D., Associate Professor of Neurology and Bioengineering, and Marc Dichter, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Neurology, both of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, will investigate the translation of existing electrical stimulation therapeutic technology to more effective secon-generation devices. The goal of this project is to improve the detection, prediction and stimulation functions of current implantable antiepileptic devices, increasing their efficacy and enabling more patients on these devices to become seizure free.

Steven C. Schachter, M.D., Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, and Associate Director, Clinical Research at Harvard Medical School Osher Institute, will identify and obtain anticonvulsant extracts from Asia, Africa and South America and new, potentially novel extract-derived anticonvulsant compounds through an international collaboration with university scientists in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Chile, China and Senegal. Herbal extracts and compounds isolated from them with demonstrated efficacy in animal models of epilepsy will be targeted for clinical trials. The project builds on Dr. Schachter's previous experience with East Asian herbal medicines and establishes a systematic global search for novel therapeutic agents for epilepsy derived from herbal sources.

Recipients of the Milken Family Foundation Grants

The Milken Family Foundation grants will propel two highly promising projects towards a more advanced stage prior to their potential translational development and clinical application.

Xiao-Yuan Lian, Ph.D., Instructor, and Janet L. Stringer, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, will investigate the manipulation of glucose metabolism as a new treatment for seizures. The project is based on earlier research that suggests the inhibition of glycolysis in brain cells could explain the potent anti-seizure effect of the ketogenic diet. The project is designed to demonstrate the anticonvulsant action of a chemical agent known to inhibit glycolysis and open the door to a new class of therapeutic agents potentially offering improved seizure control with fewer side effects than existing therapies.

Alison L. Barth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, and member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a partnership of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, was awarded a Milken grant for research on the development of a new therapy with the potential to reverse an acquired channelopathy that increases neuronal excitability and the risk of a chronic seizure disorder following a first seizure.

About the Epilepsy Research Foundation
The Epilepsy Research Foundation is a joint venture among organizations interested in speeding the development of new, innovative translational research in producing new therapies and a cure for epilepsy. The venture was formed by the Epilepsy Therapy Development Project and the Epilepsy Foundation and includes support from Finding A Cure for Epilepsy and Seizures (FACES), the Partnership for Pediatric Epilepsy Research, and other epilepsy research support organizations. All money raised goes directly toward highly promising research projects that can be fast tracked in the fight against seizures. For further information, or to contribute, please visit www.epilepsytdp.org, www.epilepsyfoundation.org, or contact the Epilepsy Research Foundation at 800-470-1655.

About the Epilepsy Foundation
The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with affiliated organizations throughout the United States, has led the fight against epilepsy since 1968. The Foundation's goals are to ensure that people with seizures are able to participate in all life experiences; and to prevent, control and cure epilepsy through research, education, advocacy and services. For additional information, please visit www.epilepsyfoundation.org

About the Epilepsy Therapy Development Project
The Epilepsy Therapy Development Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advance new therapies for people living with epilepsy. Founded in 2002 by a group of parents, distinguished physicians and researchers, the Epilepsy Therapy Development Project supports the commercialization of new therapies through direct grants and investments in promising academic and commercial projects. The organization has raised over five million dollars towards its mission. For more information visit www.epilepsyproject.org.

About the Milken Family Foundation
The Milken Family Foundation was established by brothers Lowell and Michael Milken in 1982 with the mission to discover and advance inventive, effective ways of helping people help themselves and those around them lead productive and satisfying lives. The Foundation advances this mission primarily through its work in education and medical research. To learn more, visit www.mff.org.

Our Mission

The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives.

 
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