LANDOVER, Md., Dec. 20, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy) Institute announced winners in the first milestone of the challenge to, “Developing Predictive Biomarkers of Epilepsy Seizures.” This is part of the fourth and final challenge, in partnership with InnoCentive, that will ultimately award more than $1 million in prizes.

Each year, more than 1 out of 1,000 people with epilepsy die from SUDEP. If seizures are not controlled, the risk increases to 1 out of 150. The SUDEP Institute challenged participants in the first of three Milestones to develop a detailed project plan for a predictive biomarker identifying people at risk for SUDEP or life threatening seizures. Milestone 2 (proof of concept data) will be launched early in 2017, with further details to be found at InnoCentive Challenge.

Four solutions were each awarded $10,000:

  • Patrick H. Luckett; Dr. J. Todd McDonald; Dr. Lee M. Hively (University of Southern Alabama, Mobile, AL and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN)
    Goal: Develop a hardware-software implementation of seizure prediction and detection, using a smart-phone platform and headset to acquire scalp EEG.
  • Dr. Carolina Ciumas (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Switzerland)
    Goal: Study 500 patients with refractory epilepsy at high risk of SUDEP using an optimized MRI/fMRI investigation of brainstem structure and function.
  • Dr. Kenneth A. Loparo; Dr. Samden D. Lhatoo; Bilal Zonjy; Dr. Farhad Kaffashi; Dr. Wanchat Theeranaew; James McDonald (Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH)
    Goal: Extract information from existing data on PGES (postictal generalized EEG suppression) from multiple centers in the USA and UK.
  • Terence J. O’Brien; Patrick Kwan; Rajesh Vasa; Kon Mouzakis; Nigel C. Owens; Jeremy Goldin; Nicola Pastorello (The University of Melbourne, Australia; Royal Melbourne Hospital, Australia; Deakin University, Australia)
    Goal: Identify physiological patterns that may be present in patients both during and in-between seizures, which may differ in patients at risk of SUDEP.

“The SUDEP Institute Challenge has introduced us to many different experts from various professional backgrounds, with a common goal of preventing sudden death in epilepsy,” said Susan Vosburgh, Senior Director of the SUDEP Institute at the Epilepsy Foundation. “We are very eager to move forward with each of the winning solutions and give hope to the 3 million people living with epilepsy in the United States, and the millions more around the world.” 

The Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute challenge aims to predict sudden death in epilepsy or seizures that compromise cardiac or respiratory function in people with epilepsy. These predictors will drive human SUDEP interventions. Since the severity and frequency of seizures is currently the leading risk factor for SUDEP, a biomarker that can predict seizures, especially convulsive seizures that compromise cardiac or respiratory function, will be included in the challenge.

About Epilepsy and SUDEP
When a person has two unprovoked seizures or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more, they are considered to have epilepsy. Epilepsy affects 3 million people in the U.S. and 65 million worldwide. This year, another 150,000 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy. Because available treatments do not completely control their seizures, 3 out of 10 people with epilepsy continue to experience uncontrolled seizures while many more experience less than optimal seizure control. SUDEP is the leading epilepsy-related cause of death; each year in the U.S., SUDEP kills more than 2,750 people with epilepsy.

About the Epilepsy Foundation SUDEP Institute
The SUDEP Institute is an initiative led by the Epilepsy Foundation that carries out SUDEP education and awareness programs for people affected by epilepsy and for medical professionals; drives and supports research into the causes of and ways to prevent SUDEP; offers a support network providing bereavement support, community, and resources for individuals and families affected by SUDEP; and works together with many epilepsy organizations to find the answers to SUDEP. For additional information, please visit epilepsy.com/sudep-institute.

About the Epilepsy Foundation
The Epilepsy Foundation, a national non-profit with nearly 50 local organizations throughout the U.S., has led the fight against seizures since 1968.  The Foundation is an unwavering ally for individuals and families impacted by epilepsy and seizures. The mission of the Epilepsy Foundation is: to lead the fight to overcome the challenges of living with epilepsy and to accelerate therapies to stop seizures, find cures, and save lives. The Foundation works to ensure that people with seizures have the opportunity to live their lives to their fullest potential. For additional information, please visit epilepsy.com.

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Media Contact 
LeAnn Harley | Manager of Media Relations 
lharley@efa.org | 301.918.3721