FutureNeuro Principal Investigator awarded funding to develop a gene therapy-based approach to epilepsy treatments

Professor Matthew Campbell, Principal Investigator with FutureNeuro and Assistant Professor & Lecturer in Genetics, Trinity College Dublin has been awarded €125,610 in funding as part of a €4.5 million investment by Science Foundation Ireland.

His project will investigate whether restoring the function of a gene which regulates the blood-brain-barrier and has been found to be disrupted in brain material from epilepsy patients will prevent seizure activity and thereby treat refractive epilepsy.  

Commenting on the award, Prof. Campbell said:

"This SFI-TIDA project will give us an opportunity to explore the potential of a gene therapy based approach to treating epilepsy. While still at a very early stage, the outputs of the work could eventually lead to real and meaningful therapies for patients in the future"

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, announced the €4.5 million in funding for 38 research projects to support the commercialisation of government-funded research. 47 research positions will be supported through the awards, in areas such as cancer research, preterm infant care, medical devices, agriculture, energy and food technologies, for a duration of 12 months.

Speaking of the awards, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said:

“I am delighted to announce the recipients of the SFI TIDA Awards and commercialisation support for 38 research projects. The programme is aligned with a number of key Government strategies including Innovation 2020, the National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland and Project Ireland 2040. It will develop important entrepreneurship skills and commercialisation capabilities, ensuring Ireland maintains its position as a leader in cutting-edge research.”

The funding is provided through Science Foundation Ireland’s Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme, which has been running since 2009. The programme provides project development funding and training in entrepreneurship skills to third-level researchers, to support them in exploring commercial opportunities associated with their research. Researchers will demonstrate if an applied research project (that is, research used to find practical solutions to everyday problems, cure illness, etc.), is technically feasible, and has potential for further commercial development.

Researchers funded through the TIDA programme will also participate in the new SFI Spark Pre-Accelerator, which is an intensive five-day programme delivered by the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs. This will support STEM researchers to develop skills in areas such as evidence-based entrepreneurship, innovation and design thinking and facilitates mentoring and networking.

Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said:

“Science Foundation Ireland is committed to investing in the translation of world-class research from the laboratory to market. A key objective is to increase the number and quality of discoveries that have strong economic impact potential, that can secure follow-on public or private investment. The TIDA programme plays a key role in this process by providing funding to develop technologies, as well as fostering entrepreneurship skills among our research community.”