1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy during their lifetime, and management challenges arise as two-thirds of patients do not have an identifiable cause, and more than one-third of patients have drug resistant epilepsy. For any given patient, it is often impossible to predict which drug will be effective and the current standard of care is a trial-and-error approach, often with lengthy sequential regimens of anti-seizure medications. This current medication odyssey imposes an enormous burden on patients and their families, due to a lack of seizure control and associated side-effects.

Our research is focused on better answering the two most common questions our patients ask their neurologist in the Epilepsy Clinic “What is the cause of my epilepsy” and “How can my epilepsy be treated?”. 

“What is the cause of my epilepsy”

The role of genetics has been well-established in epilepsy, initially with family and twin studies and then with the discovery of single genes causing epilepsy. What has evolved is that the vast majority of epilepsy patients have a more complex genetic basis for their epilepsy. Integrating genetic testing into clinical care provides a better understanding of the cause of epilepsy for a particular patient. This will end the diagnostic odyssey of searching for how and why they developed epilepsy and will enable more precision-based treatment approaches.

“How can my epilepsy be treated?”

To fundamentally change the way drug resistant epilepsy patients are currently being treated we are developing a patient-specific, in vitro brain organoid drug-screening platform that can identify effective anti-seizure drugs. We plan to test whether such in vitro identified drug regimens are “real-world” effective in treating epilepsy in a particular drug-resistant patient.

Our clinical and basic science team

A/Prof Lata Vadlamudi who has been a researcher in the field of epilepsy for over 15 years and has been a neurologist in clinical practice for almost 20 years. She is a Principal Research Fellow and group leader at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research and Senior Staff Specialist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Prof Ernst Wolvetang is an international leader in the field of pluripotent stem cell biology and functional genomics for almost 20 years.  He is the senior group leader of the Stem Cell Engineering Group at The University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and Co-director of the Centre for stem cell ageing and regenerative engineering (stemCARE).

Our team also collaborates with A/Prof Jeffrey Craig from the Deakin University in Victoria, who is an epigeneticist and twin researcher with over 20 years’ experience. He is the Deputy Director of Twins Research Australia.


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