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Research Portfolio

GRANT TITLE:

New tools for assessing mouse models

GRANT TYPE:

CÉLINE NEWMAN BURSARY

grant amount:

£20,000 over 18 months, awarded in 2020

lead investigator:

Professor Andrew Trevelyan

Co-Investigators:

- Dr Xavier Leinekugel (Aix-Marseille University, France)

institution:

Newcastle University

Background

Mouse models are a hugely important experimental tool for understanding human epilepsy. Unfortunately, the standard means of EEG monitoring the epileptic condition of the animals can be invasive.

"This award is being generously supported by Paul and Fanette, the parents of Céline Newman. They said, “Céline’s shortened life was a constant but triumphant struggle against epilepsy. Half French, half British, Céline would be proud to think that this Anglo-French scientific collaboration might ultimately help others in their fight against epilepsy. Mouse models are a vital part of the effort to understand epilepsy, and develop new treatments, but monitoring epilepsy in mice is tricky, and usually involves implanting electrodes. Instead, we are developing a sensitized mouse cage, with pressure sensors in the floor, and video monitoring, which will allow us to monitor mice more rapidly, and with less trauma. We anticipate that this will greatly facilitate the research process such as, for instance, in assessing drug effects, in our efforts to develop new treatments for epilepsy.

The Study

Professor Trevelyan and collaborators in Marseille are developing a new methodology involving video and a sensitised floor pad in the mouse cage to monitor seizure frequency and associated behavioural changes. This will enable easier assessment of the animal’s epilepsy and the effects of any treatments. The team will use EEG recordings aligned with machine learning tools to train the new system to distinguish different behavioural states, including any associated with abnormal brain activity.

Significance

By allowing easier, non-invasive assessment of epilepsy in mice this new tool provides a more efficient way of measuring seizure severity and the effects of any treatments. There could be substantial gains in terms of animal welfare by reducing the need for invasive EEG monitoring in most animals.