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23 May 2024

Dr Nicolás Marichal receives Emerging Leadership Fellowship Award from Epilepsy Research Institute UK

The grant supports the project "Reprogramming of reactive glia into fast-spiking interneurons in a mouse model of Mesial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy"


Dr Nicolás Marichal, Research Associate at the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology, has received an Emerging Leader Fellowship award to explore novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy. This award is part of the Epilepsy Research UK (ERUK) 2024 research award and their £2m research investment.

In this project, Dr Marichal and co-investigator Professor Benedikt Berninger will investigate the possibility of regenerating inhibitory neurons from other, non-neuronal cells to reduce seizure activity in temporal lobe epilepsy, one of the most common forms of chronic epilepsy. Temporal lobe epilepsy often remains untreatable with current antiseizure medications, creating an urgent need for novel treatment strategies.

Dr Nicolás Marichal
Dr Nicolás Marichal

This project will further advance a novel cell-based therapeutic strategy to stop seizures in a common form of focal epilepsy, providing solid grounds for expanding its application to other forms of epilepsy."

Dr Nicolás Marichal

The Berninger group works on reprogramming the identities of brain cells. They have successfully converted glia, a type of support cells, into interneuron-like cells, the cell type that is crucial for maintaining the balance of the brain's electrical activity.

The new project will modify the conversion method to regenerate a specific subtype of interneurons often lost in temporal lobe epilepsy. It will also examine whether the new neurons can restore the balance of the brain's electrical activity. The findings from this project will address whether replacing lost cells will inform the direction of new treatment development.

These ERUK awards are designed to continue attracting the most promising scientists to epilepsy research and safeguard future capacity in this field.

For more information, please contact Annora Thoeng (Communications Manager - School of Neuroscience)

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Benedikt Berninger

Professor of Developmental Neurobiology