A Revolutionary Advancement in Treating Temporal Lobe Epilepsy: UC San Diego Health’s Breakthrough


Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is a debilitating neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures originating from the temporal lobes of the brain.

Despite advancements in medicine, a significant proportion of TLE patients do not respond to conventional anti-seizure medications, leaving them with limited treatment options.

However, a ray of hope has emerged with UC San Diego Health’s groundbreaking efforts in regenerative cell therapy, offering new possibilities for drug-resistant TLE patients.

UC San Diego Health’s Milestone Achievement:

UC San Diego Health has positioned itself at the forefront of medical innovation by becoming one of the first health systems in the United States to undertake regenerative cell therapy as a potential cure for epileptic seizures. The medical center’s multidisciplinary team, spearheaded by Dr. Sharona Ben-Haim, MD, associate professor of neurological surgery at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and surgical director of epilepsy at UC San Diego Health, recently executed the third-ever experimental regenerative brain cell therapy procedure in the nation.

The Treatment Process:

The innovative procedure involved injecting inhibitory brain cells, known as interneurons, derived from human stem cells, into specific locations in the patient’s brain. These cells are capable of producing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps block overactive impulses between nerve cells in the brain.

The aim of this groundbreaking therapy, named NRTX-1001, is to restore the balance in the brain, calming and potentially halting seizures while preserving the normal function of the affected brain region.

Precise and Intricate Procedure:

Dr. Ben-Haim’s expertise was critical during the surgical intervention. Prior to the cell insertion, she meticulously mapped out precision points on the patient’s brain, studying intra-operative magnetic resonance imaging scans that guided her every move. The surgery required utmost precision and attention, as any misstep could have significant consequences. By digitally rotating the brain three-dimensionally on a screen, Dr. Ben-Haim ensured the accuracy of the procedure.

Promising Clinical Trial:

The pioneering clinical trial, sponsored by Neurona Therapeutics, is aiming to recruit 40 participants nationwide to evaluate the outcomes of stem cell implantation for drug-resistant TLE patients. The trial seeks to understand whether the implanted healthy human brain cells can establish connections within the damaged temporal lobe, leading to a healthier brain. This trial represents a paradigm shift in TLE treatment, moving away from destructive procedures that remove affected brain tissue to reparative procedures that can potentially regenerate damaged brain cells.

The Burden of Epilepsy:

Epilepsy affects millions of people in the United States, making it the fourth most common neurological disorder after migraine, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. Approximately 3.4 million Americans have epilepsy, and a substantial portion of them do not respond well to standard anti-seizure medications, necessitating alternative treatment approaches.

Revolutionizing Epilepsy Treatment:

Traditionally, seizure reduction therapies involved removing or laser-burning parts of the brain responsible for seizures or implanting deep-brain electrodes to regulate seizure activities. However, UC San Diego Health’s experimental regenerative therapy opens up new avenues by potentially treating multiple brain areas without resorting to tissue removal. This non-destructive approach offers newfound hope to drug-resistant epilepsy patients, who may finally have a chance at a better quality of life.

A Collaborative Endeavor:

The success of this groundbreaking clinical trial rests on the extensive collaboration among various departments and institutions. UC San Diego Health’s strong clinical and research infrastructure has allowed them to participate actively in the study. Faculty and staff from neurosciences, neurosurgery, cellular regenerative medicine, radiology, neuropsychology, and neuro critical care worked in coordination with the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine Alpha Clinic at the Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center, Advanced Cell Therapy Lab, Center for Multimodal Imaging and Genetics, and the Consortium for Regenerative Medicine.

A Bright Future:

Patients who volunteered for the clinical trial demonstrated immense courage in trying an experimental procedure for controlling their seizures. Early data from the trial has been highly encouraging, with more than a 90% reduction in seizure frequency observed in the first and second patients after one year and seven months post-treatment.

This therapy’s long-term potential could revolutionize how drug-resistant focal epilepsies are treated, offering hope for thousands of individuals who currently face limited options.

In conclusion, UC San Diego Health’s pioneering efforts in regenerative brain cell therapy mark a remarkable breakthrough in the treatment of drug-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy.

With the potential to restore damaged brain tissue without causing harm to the patient, this revolutionary therapy holds promise for transforming the lives of epilepsy patients. As the clinical trial progresses, researchers and medical professionals are hopeful that this cutting-edge approach will become the standard of care for epilepsy treatment, ushering in a new era of hope and healing for those who suffer from this debilitating condition.

reference link : https://today.ucsd.edu/story/uc-san-diego-health-among-first-in-nation-to-perform-regenerative-brain-cell-procedure-for-epilepsy


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