Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP): A new model for mechanistic and therapeutic investigation

Epilepsy is one of the most common brain disorders. The condition is characterized by uncoordinated brain electrical activity and recurrent seizures. Epilepsy patients may die unexpectedly with unknown cause, a phenomenon termed “sudden unexpected death in epilepsy” (SUDEP). SUDEP accounts for about 50% of deaths in individuals suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy in which severe seizures are followed by alterations in respiratory and cardiac functions.

The underlying mechanisms triggering SUDEP remain unknown. Using animal models of human disease and live brain imaging, Dr. Thouta’s research will work to define the specific brain regions that promote brain inactivity during SUDEP-like seizures. This will include testing novel anti-epileptic drugs as a potential preventative SUDEP agent.

The results of this research will provide an understanding of the cause of SUDEP and could have a significant impact on epilepsy drug development efforts, potentially leading to the discovery of novel therapeutics for SUDEP prevention.