Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Finland
  France
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Macedonia - former Yugoslav Republic
  Malta
  Mexico
  Montenegro
  Morocco
  Namibia
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States


   Infocentre

Last Update: 31-01-2013  
Related category(ies):
Health & life sciences  |  Success stories

 

Countries involved in the project described in the article:
Hungary  |  United States
Add to PDF "basket"

Promising future for tiny epilepsy defibrillator

Antal Berényi combined a boyhood passion for electronics and years of medical training to build a device that, once implanted under the skin, can detect and stop epileptic attacks just as a defibrillator corrects heart arrhythmia. Like its inventor, the prototype device, which is being readied for trials in the US, has all the makings of a big future.


© fotolia.com

Antal Berényi left Szeged University in Hungary for the United States with a plan. He wanted to design and build a device to detect and stop epileptic attacks without drugs and without major brain surgery. To the 50 million people worldwide who suffer from epileptic seizures – a chronic neurobiological disorder – this simple plan could transform their lives.

Working with the renowned scientist Dr György Buzsáki of CMBN Rutgers, State University of New Jersey (US), he not only built the prototype device, but has already proved it works in rats. The next step is a number of preliminary safety experiments to test its therapeutic potential in humans.

EU funding for Dr Berényi's international TSPUMMNRPS project helped him quickly bring the prototype together. Many of the pieces were ordered and manufactured in Hungary, then assembled in the US. The prototype took just half a year to design and construct.

"I think being a trained medical doctor helped me work out what was really needed in terms of the electronics," the researcher suggests, "which sped up the whole design and testing phase."

The novel device detects when an epileptic seizure is coming and applies tiny, on-demand electric pulses which help the brain return to normal functioning. It works in much the same way as an implantable cardiac defibrillator applies shocks automatically to the heart after detecting minor cardiac rhythm disturbances.

"A small circuit is continuously monitoring brain activity and, if it detects a 'failure', transmits a special electric pulse through the brain. As the pulse travels from one temple to the other, it interferes (in a good way) with the areas causing the seizure," Dr Berényi explains.

Less invasive, more cost-effective
In animal tests, the device was implanted under the rat's skin, at the top of the skull. This approach, if validated for human use, would mean less invasive and more cost-effective procedures, lower risks of infection and improved overall outcomes, especially for the 30% of epileptics who cannot be treated with drugs.

The fact that the device can be implanted in a minimally invasive way is "crucial", according to the researcher: "Every medical intervention is judged on a cost-benefit basis. Since this device is implanted on the outer surface of the skull, there is no need to open up the bone during surgery."

This can dramatically reduce complications (infections, intra-cerebral bleeding, etc.) because the brain tissue is not exposed directly to any manipulation, Dr Berényi suggests. "And shorter, less-complex surgeries usually lead to faster post-operative recovery in general," he adds.

Patents have been filed for the TSPUMMNRPS device, and the project's work has gained wider attention following the November publication in Science magazine of the team's findings on 'Closed-loop control of epilepsy by trans-cranial electrical stimulation'.

And commercial interest? "Since the device is in a preclinical experimental stage, there is no industrial demand for it, but once its effectiveness is proved on human patients and approved [by the authorities], hopefully we'll find an industrial partner with vision to take it to the market," notes the researcher.

Now that the 'outgoing' phase of his fellowship is over, Dr Berényi will combine his medical experience and skills gained in the US with his knowledge of electronics and information technology to establish an electrophysiology lab back at Szeged University (HU).

"As a boy, I was so eager to see how things work that I immediately disassembled all my gifts," recalls the young scientist. "Of course, I could never fix them again … Now, either the toys or my skills have improved, but things have clearly changed for the better!"

Project details

  • Project acronym: TSPUMMNRPS
  • Participants:Hungary (Coordinator), USA
  • Project N° 254780
  • Total costs: € 223 578
  • EU contribution: € 223 578
  • Duration: September 2010 to August 2013

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use the search box at the top of the page to the right of the menu and then select "Information Centre" in the "Filter by" menu on the results page.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Project web site

Project information on CORDIS

Contacts
Unit A1 - External & internal communication,
Directorate-General for Research & Innovation,
European Commission
Tel : +32 2 298 45 40
  Top   Research Information Center