Epilepsy Center Research and Innovation

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Contact the Epilepsy Center

  • 1-617-355-7970
  • International: +1-617-355-5209

Our epilepsy specialists are constantly looking for more effective treatments to relieve children of their seizures. They are also working to make existing treatments safer.

Our clinical epileptologists and basic researchers work together so discoveries from the laboratory quickly become new treatments for children. We typically have several clinical trials going on at any time. Our doctors are:

  • searching for and testing new anti-seizure drugs
  • evaluating new imaging techniques that help surgeons not to damage functional brain tissue
  • developing and using new tools for diagnosis and therapy

You can read about the research we’re doing and the innovative strategies we use to help our patients on our research and innovation blog, Vector. 

Boston Children's Epilepsy Genetics Program

Founded in 2011, our Epilepsy Genetics Program provides comprehensive clinical services, including genetic evaluation and counseling, and engages in prolific research to help children and families with known or suspected genetic epilepsy syndromes.

Current Epilepsy Research and Innovation Projects

Health claims data: Taking a 30,000-foot view on disease associations

Using insurance claims data, researchers at Boston Children’s found a strong association: patients with an autoimmune disease had a nearly four-fold increase in their risk of developing epilepsy.

Tracking what happens between clinic visits: Will it improve care?

A web-based tracking system that helps doctors make informed decision at follow-up visits is expanding to many outpatient clinics at Boston Children’s, including epilepsy.

Magnetic brain stimulation advances to clinical trial for epilepsy

Alex Rotenberg, MD, PhD,  a neurologist in Boston Children’s Epilepsy Center, has been having success with an experimental technique for treatment-resistant epilepsy. Known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), it has helped a small number of patients with no other good options for controlling their seizures.

Seizure detection: It’s all in the wrist

Tobias Loddenkemper, MD, a neurologist in the Epilepsy Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, wanted to better understand his patients’ seizure patterns so he could better time the dosing of their medications. He’s been testing a wristband sensor system, developed by Rosalind Picard, ScD, and colleagues at the MIT Media Lab (Epilepsia, March 20), and thinks it could be part of the solution.

When a child loses milestones, consider sleep EEG studies

Tobias Loddenkemper, MD, a neurologist in the Epilepsy Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, suspected that some children with developmental delay have seizure-like activity in the brain at night. These spikes of electrical activity, referred to medically as sleep-potentiated epileptiform activity, can be readily and inexpensively detected by electroencephalography, or EEG, and readily treated with nighttime anti-seizure drugs.

Immune cells “sculpt” brain circuits — by eating excess connections

Developmental brain disorders such as autism, epilepsy or schizophrenia are increasingly seen as disorders of synapse development, and some data suggest that microglia and/or the complement cascade are involved.

Touching a nerve in epilepsy: Genetic studies find obscure causes

Ann Poduri, MD, the director of the Epilepsy Genetics Program at Boston Children’s, investigates a variety of epilepsy conditions to understand their genetic underpinnings.

Delivering a baby MEG

Imagine being able to record, in real time, the neural activity in a newborn’s brain and to overlay that information directly onto an MRI scan. When an abnormal electrical discharge triggered a seizure, you’d be able to see exactly where in the brain it originated. For years, that kind of thinking has been the domain of dreams. Boston Children’s Hospital’s Ellen Grant, MD, and Yoshio Okada, PhD, are debuting a new magnetoencephalography (MEG) system designed to turn those dreams into reality.

Brain stimulation advances toward application in pediatrics

In recent years, electrical devices stimulating the brain or peripheral nerves have emerged as clinical and scientific tools in neurology and psychiatry. In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration has approved three tools at this writing: a device for treatment of epileptic seizures via electrodes implanted beneath the skull; a device for shortening migraine headache via transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of the brain; and a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device for migraine prevention.

Epilepsy surgery: When it’s not good to wait

About a third of children with epilepsy do not get better with drug treatment. Many physicians are inclined to try additional drugs to control the seizures—and there are many to choose from. However, analysis of data from tens of thousands of patients suggests that if two or more well-chosen drugs have failed, and surgery is a safe option, there’s no benefit in holding off.

Deep sequencing” finds hidden causes of brain disorders

So-called somatic mutations—affecting just a percentage of cells—are subtle and easy to overlook, even with next-generation genomic sequencing. And they could be more important in neurologic and psychiatric disorders than we thought.

3D printing puts patients in surgeons’ hands. Literally.

Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD, and Boston Children’s Simulator Program. are putting a child’s internal anatomy in surgeons’ hands before going near an operating room.

Seizure monitoring: Looking between the seizures

Researchers at Boston Children’s have developed a computational technique that can infer the source of a patient’s seizures without invasive monitoring.

Brain structural imaging: Gleaning more with math

Researchers detail a technical breakthrough: a standardized mathematical framework that is able to glean more information from a scan that could shed further light on brain abnormalities and can potentially be used by any research center.

The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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