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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Microchip developed to cool brain to stop seizures

2 August, 2005

The development
of a microchip that detects seizure activity and then cools the brain
to stop the seizure spreading has been reported in the New Scientist.

In
partial seizures, the electrical activity is concentrated in one part
of the brain and it was already known that cooling brain cells can
reduce their activity and make them appear harmless. Researchers, led
by Steven Rothman, neurologist at the Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine,
have developed a small chip, placed in the skull, that detects the
start of the seizure and cools down the cells involved. The aim to
develop a system where the chip will cool brain cells without the
person with epilepsy knowing what has occurred.

The
study cooled brain cells from body temperature (around 37°C) down to
around 22°C which stopped the seizures from spreading with no apparent
harm to brain cells.

The
researchers hope this may be a solution for people with epilepsy for
whom anti-epileptic medication or conventional brain surgery, if
practicable, has not worked. They now plan to do more research, both in
order to confirm the findings of this study and to seek technical
solutions to building an implantable cooling device.