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Epilepsy Research Institute hosts Roundtable with UK Dementia Research Institute

The Epilepsy Research Institute hosted a Research Roundtable with UK Dementia Research Institute this week at our head office in London. The event brought together 20 leading researchers working in the fields of epilepsy and dementia to identify opportunities to advance much-needed collaborative research in this area.

What do we already know about the link between epilepsy and dementia?

Epilepsy and dementia share a bi-directional relationship, meaning that people with dementia have an increased risk of epilepsy, and people with epilepsy may be more likely to develop dementia. Researchers have found strong links between the two conditions and their underlying mechanisms, including the potential of using anti-seizure medications to treat dementia, which is currently being investigated.

Increasing our knowledge of the link between epilepsy and other conditions such as dementia is a focus of the Institute’s research themes. The Neurodevelopment theme spans brain development across the lifespan – including neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia. Enabling multidisciplinary research collaborations is also an aim of the Institute’s Capacity Building theme.

By improving our understanding of the overlap between these conditions, we will be able to drive the development of treatments as well as prediction and prevention strategies through research.

Why is it important for researchers of different disciplines to come together at events like these? 

We anticipate this Research Roundtable will be the first of many at the Institute, as we work to convene, connect and capacity-build the epilepsy research ecosystem. Bringing researchers together and strengthening networks enables the sharing of vital knowledge across conditions and of overlapping research methodologies. By facilitating this, we hope to enable new multidisciplinary collaborations, foster research partnerships, and drive much needed strategic investment in research.

What did the researchers say about the Roundtable?

“Too often as scientists we get caught up in our own silos, focussing on our own specific disease area and not seeing the broader implications of how it may overlap with similar approaches and other disease areas. Today we learnt that there is a lot of synergy between dementia and epilepsy research over ways in which we can approach both conditions and the way in which understanding and treating epilepsy can be used to understand and treat dementia.”
Professor Matthew Walker, University College London, Roundtable Co-Chair and Chair of the Epilepsy Research Institute

“People with Alzheimer’s disease often experience seizures and at the same time people with epilepsy experience cognitive impairment and cognitive decline. Today we brought together researchers working in both fields to explore this borderline between the two conditions. Lots of synergies and commonalities were identified which can be explored further, to hopefully make real progress in understanding the overlap and develop better therapies.”
Dr Marc Busche, UK DRI at University College London, Roundtable Co-chair

“There seems to be a significant amount of overlap between childhood and adult dementia. I hope that by discussing these overlaps we can come together to look at common mechanisms that would be helpful to all patients and families that are affected by these devasting conditions, that also go along with epilepsy.”
Dr Sukhvir Wright, Aston University

What were the key takeaways from the event?

A key outcome of the meeting was the shared commitment and pragmatic approach addressing these co-occurring conditions together. The Roundtable discussions highlighted the expansive overlap between the two conditions, which was consistent through underlying mechanisms and clinical presentation, and the many opportunities for collaborative clinical, fundamental and translational research. A follow up workshop is planned for later this year to maintain momentum and develop a co-ordinated approach for research into epilepsy and dementia.

If you’re a researcher working in epilepsy or associated conditions, sign up to The Hub to be the first to hear about future Research Roundtable events.

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