Skip to main content

Long non-coding RNAs: regulators of epileptogenesis and potential targets for therapy

Principal Investigator:

Prof Gary Brennan, School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, University College Dublin


€91,286, over three years. 50% of the funding for this project has been made available by the Health Research Board (HRB) through the Joint Funding Scheme operated by the HRB and the Health Research Charities Ireland, of which Epilepsy Ireland is a member. Epilepsy Ireland will fund the other 50%.

About the Project:

Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is the most common type of epilepsy in adults, with seizures being the major symptom although individuals with this disease may also have anxiety, depression and/or memory disturbances as a result of their condition.

TLE is very difficult to treat and about 30% of individuals with this type of epilepsy are failed by conventional treatments. TLE may arise following various brain injuries such as traumatic brain injury, stroke or infection. These brain injuries trigger several disease-causing processes in the brain which eventually culminate in seizure development.

One major change observed following epilepsy-causing brain injuries are large scale changes in the expression patterns of genes in the brain. These changes likely drive many of the other processes because gene expression dictates how our brain cells behave.

Dr Brennan’s group has previously found that a specific group of molecules called long non-coding RNAs are produced at different rates in the brain following epilepsy-causing brain injury. This group of molecules are critical for almost every cellular activity and may therefore play an important role in the transformation of cells to an epileptic state.

The new project will use advanced molecular biology techniques to initially identify the full extent of the dysregulation of long non-coding RNAs in epilepsy and then test whether we can target these molecules to identify novel therapeutic strategies to treat epilepsy.

It is hoped that the study will greatly increase our understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind epilepsy development and shed light on the therapeutic potential of targeting long non-coding RNAs to treat the condition.