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Nat Commun. 2014 May 27;5:3847. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4847.

Chemical-genetic attenuation of focal neocortical seizures.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, UK.


Focal epilepsy is commonly pharmacoresistant, and resective surgery is often contraindicated by proximity to eloquent cortex. Many patients have no effective treatment options. Gene therapy allows cell-type specific inhibition of neuronal excitability, but on-demand seizure suppression has only been achieved with optogenetics, which requires invasive light delivery. Here we test a combined chemical-genetic approach to achieve localized suppression of neuronal excitability in a seizure focus, using viral expression of the modified muscarinic receptor hM4Di. hM4Di has no effect in the absence of its selective, normally inactive and orally bioavailable agonist clozapine-N-oxide (CNO). Systemic administration of CNO suppresses focal seizures evoked by two different chemoconvulsants, pilocarpine and picrotoxin. CNO also has a robust anti-seizure effect in a chronic model of focal neocortical epilepsy. Chemical-genetic seizure attenuation holds promise as a novel approach to treat intractable focal epilepsy while minimizing disruption of normal circuit function in untransduced brain regions or in the absence of the specific ligand.

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