Research Fellows Directory
Dr Stephanie Schorge
University College London
Epilepsy is the commonest serious neurological disorder, but presently the available treatments are palliative - that is, they stop seizures, but do not treat the underlying disease that causes seizures in the first place. Most scientists and clinicians think that epilepsy arises when excitatory and inhibitory activities in the brain are out of balance. My work aims to restore that balance, in essence, not to treat the symptoms of epilepsy, but to cure the underlying disease. To do this, I work with a team of investigators with expertise from the level of single molecules to the whole brain. We develop gene therapy approaches that are based on years of studying how rare genetic changes can cause epilepsy, by exploring how these genetic changes modify the way the cells in the brain work. We use our insight into how genes can cause epilepsy to develop strategies to reverse these changes and suppress epilepsy. We are presently using gene therapy to express different genes that can calm down the cells that trigger seizures. We are focused on studying seizures that are the most difficult to treat, and the types of seizures that patients struggle with most. Our present studies have identified three different ways to stop cells from triggering seizures and we are working with regulatory bodies to test the safety of these gene therapy tools for clinical trials in patients. Some of our data suggest the same genes which we are using to stop seizures, may also be able to calm down the cells that trigger pathological pain, and we are now beginning to investigate whether our gene therapy may also be helpful for people with chronic pain. Our aim is to develop at least one new therapy that will be applicable for patients for whom no treatment presently exists.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)