How Neuroscience Will Fight Five Age-Old Afflictions

Rewiring the brain to battle seizures, blindness, and more.

1) SEIZURES

A device delivers targeted drugs to calm overactive neurons

For years, large clinical trials have treated people with epilepsy using so-called deep-brain stimulation: surgically implanted electrodes that can detect a seizure and stop it with an electrical jolt. The technology leads to a 69 percent reduction in seizures after five years, according to the latest results.

Tracy Cui, a biomedical engineer at the University of Pittsburgh, hopes to improve upon that statistic. Her group has designed an electrode that would deliver both an electrical pulse and antiseizure medication. “We know where we want to apply the drug,” Cui says, “so you would not need a lot of it.”

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