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Predicting and monitoring outcomes in Autoimmune Encephalitis (POTA)

Principal Investigator

Prof Norman Delanty, Consultant Neurologist and Director, Epilepsy Service, Beaumont Hospital & Honorary Clinical Associate Professor, RCSI.


€149,924, 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

Autoimmune encephalitis (AE) is a rare cause of epilepsy. It is an inflammatory disease of the brain. This means that the body’s own immune system attacks healthy brain tissue, just like it would if it were infected by a virus or a bacteria, by producing an army of proteins called ‘antibodies’ which go on to ‘attack’ healthy tissues.

Seizures in AE typically do not respond well to normal anti-seizure medications. Instead, medications which suppress the immune system are used to treat it. These can have significant side-effects and some patients will continue to have seizures or experience a recurrence of AE- related epilepsy despite treatment. It is difficult to accurately predict who these outcomes will happen to.

Prof Delanty’s study will aim to find ways of predicting which people with AE are at greatest risk of these outcomes, so that clinicians can better direct them towards appropriate treatments.

The researchers will collect clinical information and samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid (fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord) from people with AE and ‘control’ participants with other neurological illnesses. They will then analyse these samples for proteins (biomarkers) which may help to predict outcomes in AE such as microRNAs, cytokines and chemokines. Ultimately, this will help better understand the disease and potentially lead to the development of new treatments for AE.