Epilepsy research - Precision-based management

About

Our research is focused on better answering the two most common questions patients ask their neurologist in the Epilepsy Clinic: “What is the cause of my epilepsy?” and “How can my epilepsy be treated?” A better understanding of the cause for an individual patient will underpin the era of more personalised treatments to improve outcomes for this debilitating disorder.

1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy and the current “one size fits all model” is not effective for more than one third of patients who remain drug resistant (refractory epilepsy).

“What is the cause of my epilepsy?”

The role of genomics 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 genomic basis for their epilepsy.

By integrating genomic testing into clinical care, we can provide a better understanding of the cause of epilepsy for a particular patient. This approach will end the diagnostic odyssey of searching for how and why they developed epilepsy and will enable precision-based, personalised treatment approaches based on the individual’s genomic results.

“How can my epilepsy be treated?”

To fundamentally change the way drug resistant epilepsy patients are 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, highlighting a precision-based approach for optimal drug selection – reducing the burden on patients and their families.

Our clinical and basic science team

Associate Professor Lata Vadlamudi 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. Lata has 15 years’ experience as a researcher. This, coupled with her expertise as a neurologist in clinical practice for almost 20 years, provides her with unique insights into patient needs and the skills to develop and implement much needed research into epilepsy.

Professor 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 Associate Professor Jeffrey Craig from 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.
 

We wish to thank all those who have been so generous and supported this vital epilepsy research, to improve the lives of epilepsy patients.

We seek your support to speed the implementation of this research into the clinic, where it will create the much needed improvements in patient care and outcomes. For more information please contact our team to understand how you can help.

Donate to Epilepsy Research

 

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology

Professor Ernst WolvetangProfessor Ernst Wolvetang

Senior Group Leader, Head of the Stem Cell Engineering Laboratory, University of Queensland
Email: e.wolvetang@uq.edu.au

Dr Hannah LeesonDr Hannah Leeson ​

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Email: h.leeson@uq.edu.au

Dr Mohammed ShakerDr Mohammed Shaker ​

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Organoid Biology
Email: m.shaker@uq.edu.au

Zoe HunterZoe Hunter ​

Honours student (2020-2021)
Email: z.hunter@uq.net.au

Priyanka SainPriyanka Sain ​

Student, Masters of Biotechnology (2020)
Email: p.sain@uq.net.au

 

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Namitha MohandasNamitha Mohandas (2015-2020)

PhD Candidate
Email: namitha.mohandas@mcri.edu.au

Affiliations: 

  • Early Life Epigenetics, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne 
  • Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne
  • Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne

Jane LokeYuk Jing (Jane) Loke

Research Officer
Email: jane.loke@mcri.edu.au

Affiliations: 

  • Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne

Stephanie HopkinsStephanie Hopkins

Honours Student (2018)
Email: stephanie.hopkins@mcri.edu.au

Affiliations: 

  • Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne
  • University of Newcastle, Newcastle

Deakin University

Associate Professor Jeffrey CraigAssociate Professor Jeffrey Craig

Deakin University, Centre for Molecular and Medical Research, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health
Email: Jeffrey.craig@deakin.edu.au

Affiliations:

  • Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne
  • Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
  • Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne

We are grateful that this research has been generously enabled by competitive research grants including Metro North Hospital and Health Services Clinician Research Fellowship, Queensland Genomics, University of Queensland Mayne Bequest Funding, Queensland Health Research Fellowship, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Research Project Grants, Viertel Charitable Foundation Establishment Grant, Ramaciotti Establishment Grant and RACP Servier Barry Young Fellowship in Neurology.

For information on how you can help further this research, please contact Nic Zanyat on n.zanyat@uq.edu.au or 0448 413 157.