The long-term goal of these studies is to develop novel therapeutics for epilepsy patients whose seizures are not well-controlled by current drugs (pharmacoresistant). Many of these patients have a type of focal epilepsy called temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). There has been little progress in the development of novel therapies for these patients because of the lack of suitable animal models. Current TLE models show much greater neuronal death and hippocampal sclerosis than observed in patients, and a highly variable occurrence of seizures that precludes drug testing. The proposed studies will validate the usefulness of new mouse model of TLE that overcomes these problems. It was discovered that a mild kindling protocol of a specific strain of mice, VGAT- Cre, led to spontaneous seizures. Kindling refers to the process where repeated electrical stimulations eventually trigger tonic-clonic seizures. However, kindling only leads to spontaneous seizures in VGAT-Cre mice. These mice express Cre recombinase under the control of the vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT), a gene that is specifically expressed in GABAergic inhibitory neurons. Loss, or dysfunction, of these neurons in the hippocampus has been linked to the development of temporal lobe epilepsy.
The first aim of this study will optimize kindling protocols to generate mice with an ideal frequency of spontaneous seizures for drug testing.
The second aim i s to validate that these mice respond to currently available antiseizure drugs. This work will be done by Dr. Wilcox?s group at the University of Utah, who also directs the NIH-sponsored Epilepsy Therapy Screening Program.
Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is debilitating disorder that affects millions of people worldwide and is difficult to treat with medicines. This grant will validate a novel animal model of TLE that will enhance the search for novel therapies.