Since patients are already undergoing invasive intracranial electrical brain recordings, we asked patients for consent to donate any tissues resected as part of their normal surgery for intractable epilepsy not needed for clinical diagnosis.
The in vivo, high resolution electrical recordings reveal brain regions with seizures, epileptic spiking, and often regions with little to no epileptic activity are removed as part of large en bloc resections.
This creates a unique opportunity to ask fundamentally what is different with the same person’s brain between cortical regions that produce seizures and/or spiking with those that don’t produce seizures/spiking.
We map each piece of tissue to the precise region in the brain where we had an intracranial electrode and all brain imaging studies. We then subdivide each piece so that we can simultaneously perform histological analysis, and molecular analyses including genomics, proteomics, and, for this study, metabolomics.
By using a biology systems approach, we can collect data on various systems. All of this data is stored in a relational database that allows us to link all variables to each other and ask fundamental questions about biomarkers and identify drug targets common to all patients in our series.
About the author: Dr. Loeb is John S. Garvin Professor and Head of the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, IL.