Merab Kokaia


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Epilepsy is one of the most devastating neurological diseases affecting about 1% of the population of the western countries. Despite certain progress in antiepileptic drug development in about 30-40% of cases epileptic seizures do not respond to conventional pharmacological treatment therapies. Recently neuropeptides and neurotrophic factors emerged as strong regulators of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission in the CNS thus offering a potent tool to counteract the seizure activity. However, it is not clear what the role of these agents is in mechanisms of epileptogenesis.

We explore the role of neuropeptides and neurotrophic factors in modulation of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission and epileptogensis in the brain. We use rats and trasngenic mice in combination with in vivo epilepsy models (kindling, status epilepsitcus) and in vitro approaches (patch-clamp in brain slices, optogenetics). One of the specific aims of this research line is to use both direct and indirect targeted gene transfer of neuropeptides and neurotrophic factors into the different brain regions to investigate mechanistic aspects of their action on synaptic transmission and epileptogensis. We also explore seizure-suppressant effects of optogenetic and chemogenetic approaches in vitro and in vivo in animal models of epilepsy.

This research will help in better understanding of the mechanisms for epileptogenesis and might lead to development of new gene therapy-based strategies for epilepsy treatment.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

UKÄ subject classification

  • Neurosciences
  • Neurology


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