Epilepsy Talk

Rewiring the Brain with Cell Transplantation | August 9, 2017

Cell transplantation is an emerging approach for treating drug-resistant epilepsy.

Regenerative medicine such as this, is a relatively “simple” process in that stem cells are often cultured from the patient’s own tissue, then processed and transfused back into the body.

Cells used for transplant are sometimes genetically engineered to produce substances to reduce seizures, or protect neurons from damage.

For people with epilepsy, stem cell transplantation offers the prospect of someday preventing seizures.

In addition to treating multiple diseases, the ability to “guide” stem cells to develop into specific tissue types may ultimately benefit patients suffering from severe burns, traumatic injuries and congenital defects.

That being said, cell transplantation therapies for epilepsy are still in preliminary stages of development.

However, the encouraging results of animal studies suggest that this type of therapy may eventually be used to treat drug-resistant human epilepsy.

In about 50 percent to 70 percent of epilepsy cases, an underlying cause of seizures cannot be determined.

But in recent years, advances in genetics, biochemistry and functional imaging have helped researchers identify the biological basis of some forms of the disease.

The lab team of Scott C. Baraban, PhD, a key scientist at the UCSF, is working with mice that possess the same genetic, biochemical and anatomical defects that are seen in specific types of human epilepsy.

“The cells actually make new synapses,” says Baraban. “That’s the key feature. By making a new synapse with host cells, a transplanted cell acts more like a native cell. We’re basically rewiring the brain.”

It takes about a month for transplanted cells to spread out from the site of transplantation, settle down at their new neural addresses, grow up and connect with their neighbors.

Baraban and his colleagues have also begun working with human stem cells in a project funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

With epilepsy, the implanted cells could be used to produce inhibitory neurons

The aim is to develop a treatment, based on using cell transplantation, to calm the firestorm of overexcited brain cells that cause seizures.

While the strategy appears quite promising so far, there is plenty of additional pre-clinical work to do before any human clinical trials begin.

But the outlook looks very promising. Especially for those with drug resistant epilepsy.

 “It’s going to be a much better way of treating diseases than we currently have available,” said Dr. Steven N. Roper, neurosurgeon and professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

 “It’s not going to be tomorrow, but the fact that we’re using human stem cells means we’re already working on that next critical step.”


To subscribe to Epilepsytalk.com and get the latest articles by email, simply go to the bottom box of the right column and click on “Follow”











  1. Reblogged this on catsissie.


    Comment by catsissie — August 15, 2017 @ 12:42 AM

  2. This is exciting! Maybe some of us–or our kids–will be able to be helped by this.


    Comment by catsissie — August 15, 2017 @ 12:45 AM

  3. It would be wonderful to stay up to date with the process of this option that may come available. Many like myself do not respond to medications well and need to have improvements. Please continue to move forward and create a miracle.
    Keep us up to date.

    Thank you!


    Comment by Verka — August 16, 2017 @ 8:44 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

    View Full Profile →

    Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive free notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 3,265 other subscribers
    Follow Epilepsy Talk on WordPress.com
%d bloggers like this: