The Channelopathies group at the UCL Institute of Neurology specialises in functional characterisation of ion channels, particularly those which are relevant to human disease, including epilepsy. We are interested in both how changes in ion channels lead to human disease, and how human disease can trigger changes in ion channels. Our work spans a wide range of channels, voltage and ligand gated, as well as transporters. We are not limited to mutations and coding variants, but also have investigated the impact of alternative splicing, and how changing subunit assembly changes ion channels. As well as intrinsic changes in ion channel behaviour, we have determined how changes in channels alters response to anti-epileptic drugs. In order to explore the function of different channels we express variations of our channels in many systems, including in neurons, both in primary cultures, and in vivo.
Recently we have collaborated to develop a promising new gene therapy approach to treating epilepsy. This approach involves over-expressing a single potassium channel in an epileptic focus and is sufficient to stop seizures in a model of chronic epilepsy. These techniques (in vivo expression, seizure monitoring) will be applied to determine the efficacy of miRNA manipulations that are identified by EpimiRNA research consortia as potential therapeutic targets in epilepsy.
The work on EpimiRNA will be carried out in close collaboration with the European, Wellcome Trust, ERUK and MRC funded basic and translational research into epilepsy at the world-leading UCL ION Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy based at Queen Square in London.