The Epilepsy Research Foundation Announces Recipients of New Therapy Grants Program Awards

Grants Recognize Scientific Innovators Developing Novel Therapies and Devices for Treatment of Seizures

Reston, Virginia - Landover, Maryland

Reston, VA, Landover, MD, June 22, 2005--The Epilepsy Project and the Epilepsy Foundation, non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing innovative new therapies for people afflicted with epilepsy, today announced the three recipients of their New Therapy Grants Program biannual review. These grants are providing a record $425,000 to advance translational research projects in epilepsy. Grant recipients were chosen on the basis of demonstrating a clear translational pathway to bring new therapies from the laboratory to patients with epilepsy.

“Despite recent strides in understanding epilepsy, nearly half of the 2.7 million Americans living with epilepsy suffer from persistent seizures while on available epilepsy therapies. Further, many others endure significant treatment related side-effects to achieve control of their seizures,” said Jacqueline French, M.D., Professor of Neurology, and Co-Director of the Pennsylvania Epilepsy Center, University of Pennsylvania, and Executive Board member and Co-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of The Epilepsy Project. “These grants will fund highly promising programs that have already demonstrated a solid scientific basis and the potential to translate quickly into innovative new therapies, helping to address the unmet medical needs of the epilepsy community.”

The three recipients are each pioneering radical new treatments for managing epileptic seizures. Research initiatives include: a revolutionary antiepileptic drug-delivery system via injection using nanoparticles designed to target specific epileptic regions in the brain; a new therapeutic agent offering promise for the treatment of neonatal seizures; and a new method of seizure predicting and controlling seizures through electrical stimulation.

Recipients of the 2005 New Therapy Grants

Bi-Botti Celestin Youan, PharmD., Ph.D., School of Pharmacy, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and Karin Borges, Ph.D. were awarded a grant to explore the efficacy of spray-dried biocompatible microparticles of phenytoin, when injected into the brain, result in optimal therapeutic anticonvulsant concentrations and seizure control. Using phenytoin as the model drug, Dr. Youan’s and Dr. Borges’ project aims to engineer novel, safe and effective therapies for long-term treatment of epilepsies by providing the platform for the development of a delivery system capable of administering new and old anticonvulsant drugs. The long-term goal is to provide a treatment alternative for patients who are pharmacoresistant and not candidates for surgery.

Frances E. Jensen, M.D., Associate Professor of Neurology, Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and Michael R. Fetell, M.D., Vice President Oncology and CNS, IVAX Research, Inc. were awarded a collaborative grant using an animal model to assess the anticonvulsant and antiepileptogenic efficacy of talampanel and its effect in modulating the AMPA-receptor (AMPAR) responses in neonatal seizures and brain injury. Dr. Jensen’s and Dr. Fetell’s research is based on a series of in vivo and in vitro models of neonatal seizures and perinatal injury demonstrating selective anticonvulsant, antiepileptogenic, and protective efficacy of known AMPA receptor antagonists NBQX, GYKI-52466, and topiramate. Their project aims to test neonatal and pediatric efficacy and toxicology as well as begin preliminary development of a non-oral form of talampanel that is easily administered to human infants.

Leon Iasemidis, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Bioengineering, Harrington Department of Bioengineering, Arizona State University, Kostas Tsakalis, Ph.D., Professor of Electrical Engineering, Arizona State University and David Treiman, M.D., Newsome Chair in Epileptology, Vice-Chair of the Department of Neurology, Director of the Epilepsy Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, Research Professor of Bioengineering, Arizona State University were awarded a grant, partially funded through the generous support of the Ali Paris Fund for Landau-Kleffner Syndrome Research & Education, to explore and test a closed-loop electrical stimulation method on an animal model of chronic epilepsy using seizure prediction and intervention algorithms. Dr. Iasemidis’, Dr. Tsakalis’ and Dr. Treimans’ project is based on previous research findings that identified a mathematical model designed to predict seizures in both humans and animals as well as help determine seizure control. This project aims to predict and avert seizures long before their clinical and/or electrographic onset.

“The goal of these grants is to actively promote fast-paced collaboration between academia, non-profit, and industry, which we foresee resulting in ground-breaking therapeutic options for patients,” said May Liang, President of The Epilepsy Project. “Our mission is to condense the time it takes to develop and commercialize new epilepsy therapies, and we are excited about this year’s recipients.”

The New Therapy Grants are awarded by the Epilepsy Research Foundation (ERF), a joint translational research initiative between The Epilepsy Project and the Epilepsy Foundation.

In a related development, The Epilepsy Project and the Epilepsy Foundation announced today a new million dollar fundraising challenge to finance the New Therapies Grants Program. The effort, which will leverage support for cutting edge translational research in academic and commercial centers, is the second match challenge offered by Warren Lammert, Chairman of The Epilepsy Project and Board Member of the Epilepsy Foundation, and family on behalf of the ERF. Building on the successful completion of the first-round million-dollar match goal established in May of 2004, the Lammert Family has offered a second million-dollar match which the Epilepsy Research Foundation seeks to leverage with a $2 million challenge to the community.

About The Epilepsy Research Foundation
The Epilepsy Research Foundation was formed as a joint venture between the Epilepsy Project and the Epilepsy Foundation to fund new, innovative translational research to speed the search for a cure for epilepsy. Pledges to support the Epilepsy Research Foundation can be extended over a period of up to five years. All money raised will directly fund research programs aimed at discovering a cure for epilepsy and seizures. For further information, or to contribute, please visit www.epilepsyproject.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 Project
The Epilepsy 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 Project's mission is to advance new therapies for people living with epilepsy. The organization supports the commercialization of new therapies through direct grants and investments in promising academic and commercial projects. Since its founding, The Epilepsy Project has raised over five million dollars towards its mission. For further information, please visit www.epilepsyproject.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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