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Commission on Neurobiology

Commission Members

Annamaria Vezzani, Chair

Magda Lagorhue Nunes
Asla Pitkänen Heinz Beck
Edward H Bertram, III, Secretary Christophe Bernard, Treasurer
Marco de Curtis Jerome Engel, Jr 
Yoshiya Murashima Istvan Mody
Yoel Yaari Jeffrey L Noebels


  1. Contribute to educational activities
  2. Contribute to representation of basic science in epilepsy meetings
  3. Revisit the current methods of preclinical testing of AEDs

Improve translational research

Commission activities from 1 January 2006 until 31 May 2007

Our Commission activities can be merged into three main areas:

  1. Educational activities which are mainly focused on organization of teaching courses to bridge basic and clinical research; these initiatives are operative in year 2007
  2. Organization of workshops and basic science sessions within the scientific program at the main International Meetings on Epilepsy
  3. Initiatives on new therapeutic strategies

Accomplishments (2006)

Educational activities:

  • In collaboration with Dr Esper Cavalheiro (Educational Committee) we contributed to organize “The first Latin-American Summer School on Epilepsy” (LASSE) held in São Paulo, Brazil, in February 2007. The title of the school was “Epilepsy: Translating Basic Discoveries into Practical Applications.” Distinguished epileptologists from different countries (focusing on those working in Latin-American countries) were invited to act as speakers and/or tutors to offer lectures and practical sections to post-graduation students working in Latin America.
  • In collaboration with the Commission on Genetics (Dr Ruth Ottman) we organized a Joint Symposium which will be presented at the 27th IBE/ ILAE International Epilepsy Congress entitled “Epilepsy Genetics in the 21st Century: Building Bridges from the Laboratory to Patient Care.” The intent of this joint symposium is to give the clinician an up-to-date review of genetic terminology regarding the types of mutations that have been identified in the epilepsies as well as the consequences of these mutations. The techniques that are used to identify genes that may cause or influence the development of epilepsy will be also reviewed. The overall purpose is to provide the clinician with a solid foundation for understanding the evolving literature in this fast paced area of epilepsy research. This symposium will constitute the basis for preparing a dedicated issue in Epilepsia.

Organization of workshops and basic science sessions

Some members of our commission have proposed scientific sessions to the SAC of the 27th IBE/ ILAE International Epilepsy Congress in Singapore that have been accepted in the final program. These sessions have a translational intent and they respectively focus on:

  • H. Beck – Channelopathies in epilepsy: To exemplify how research in human genetics can lead to the understanding of basic mechanisms of epilepsy, as well as to discovery of novel ion channels that may serve as drug targets
  • J. Engel – Invasive basic research in an epilepsy surgery setting: Epilepsy surgery provides excellent opportunities for invasive research into basic mechanisms of both normal and epileptic human brain function. A variety of electrophysiological, microanatomical, biochemical, and molecular biological studies are being carried out in many centers around the world on surgically resected tissue, but in vivo investigations into fundamental mechanisms are also possible during chronic and intraoperative intracranial EEG procedures. There is increasing interest in developing the capacity to carry out such research, and the use of standard depth electrodes, as well as microelectrodes and microdialysis probes, to investigate neuronal mechanisms of epilepsy and normal human brain function in the epilepsy surgery setting will be discussed. This workshop should encourage more basic scientists and clinicians in epilepsy surgery centers to pursue invasive in vivo investigations in patients.
  • M de Curtis and Y Murashima – IX Workshop on Neurobiology of Epilepsy (WONOEP 2007) a satellite event of the 27th IBE/ ILAE International Epilepsy Congress in Singapore. The main topic of WONOEP 2007 is “Transition from the interictal to the ictal state: neurophysiological, cellular, molecular mechanisms.” As a novelty of this edition, both proposals for individual presentations as well as panel discussions (involving three or four speakers) have been included in the final program. Proceedings will be published in a dedicated supplement of Epilepsia. This supplement will contain main review articles critically addressing the discussion points and conclusions achieved at the end of this workshop.

Intitiatives on new therapeutic strategies

In collaboration with the Commission on Therapeutics (Drs J French and G Mathern), we constituted the ILAE Neurobiology/Therapeutic Strategies Joint Commission on screening new antiepileptic drugs (AED). This joint commission feels that it is essential to revisit the current methods of preclinical testing of AED, with the goal of enhancing the existing screens to predict the ultimate clinical efficacy/effectiveness more consistently. This joint commission therefore proposes to conduct a research project with the aim of obtaining insights into the validity of models used in the identification of anticonvulsant activity. This goal stems from the belief that more accurate prediction of clinical success will encourage the selection of truly promising compounds for clinical development. We are planning to organize a first meeting to discuss the terms and routes for achieving this goal. This first meeting will be held in Philadelphia after AES 2007 and will include a restricted number of participants representatives of academia, drug companies, NIH/NINDS.

Recommendations for Future Work

We are planning to continue our activities initiated in 2006 with emphasis on improving translational research initiatives.

Annamaria Vezzani
Chair, Commission on Neurobiology  



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