Epilepsy is one of the most common serious neurological condition, affecting about 1% of the population, i.e. about 60 million people globally (6 million in Europe). The most debilitating clinical aspect of the disease is recurrent, unprovoked fseizures that result from hypersynchronous, excessive neuronal firing. Frontline treatment is with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) which work by continuously dampening brain excitability, cause serious side effects and are ineffective in one third of the cases. Brain surgery to remove affected tissue can be an option for only a minority of patients. Hence, new approaches are required that forecast occurrence of seizures and autonomously intervene to prevent them.
Available implantable devices delivering electrical stimulation to an epileptogenic zone have several shortcomings: their efficacy is modest, they respond only as the seizure is already occurring, they require bulky implanted batteries. In addition, they cannot autonomously prevent a seizure before it occurs or mitigate the underlying pathophysiology. Thus, safer, more effective and biologically intuitive solutions are required. The alternative and radical approach proposed in PRIME is to implant engineered cells with logic computing gate functions to sense and control seizures.