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Tobias Engel

I’m a first year PhD student within Dr Tobias Engel’s epilepsy research group. My research focusses on the blood-brain barrier’s contribution to the development of epilepsy. A functional blood-brain barrier is essential for maintaining brain homeostasis, with evidence to suggest that a dysfunctional blood-brain barrier allows entry of toxic substances into the neuronal tissue, starting a sequence of events that changes a normal neuronal network into a more seizure susceptible state. This project will investigate the purinergic ATP-gated P2X7 receptor’s contribution in controlling blood-brain barrier permeability during seizures and epilepsy. To investigate this, I will use both the traumatic brain injury and intraamygdala kainic acid mouse models of epilepsy combined with in vivo two-photon microscopy to visualise changes blood-barrier permeability. The data obtained will be correlated with the seizure phenotype observed. This will be further elucidated on using pharmacologic and genetic manipulations of the purinergic system, including endothelium-cell specific P2X7 receptor knockouts, and in turn correlate the changes in blood-brain barrier permeability with the development of the epilepsy phenotype. This research may lead to identifying a novel therapeutic mechanism to halt the progression of the epilepsy disorder.

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