EpimiRNA progress so far
The consortium has completed work to identify miRNAs that are common to multiple models of epilepsy and identified a number of miRNAs regulated by “protective” brain stimulation as well as “harmful” seizures. The consortium is also working to identify the targets/mechanisms of the novel epilepsy-associated miRNAs. Patient recruitment at clinical sites has been very successful with >500 brain and biofluid samples now collected. Analysis of miRNA levels within human brain and biofluid samples is at an advanced stage. We have a prototype device that will enable neurosurgeons to perform combined recording of electrical activity with extraction of brain fluid (or delivery of drugs) to deep brain sites; a clinical trial is planned. A clinical trial of a new brain stimulation device for drug-resistant epilepsy is underway which will feature analysis of miRNAs. We are also in the final stages of analysing DNA samples from ~3000 people to look for variations in the genetic code of miRNAs. A new software platform and database has been established which allow multiple researchers to share and access data on miRNAs and epilepsy. Powerful computer simulations have been developed that allow EpimiRNA researchers to predict how changes to miRNAs affect brain networks. We have identified several new miRNAs that affect brain excitability and have a screening assay which may help identify further molecules acting on these pathways. EpimiRNA disseminates its activities through Twitter (@Epimirna) and has organized various scientific and public meetings.