Looking for new treatments for epilepsy? Start with zebrafish. That’s the approach being taken at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute.
Dr. Deborah Kurrasch is the first in Canada to bioengineer the fish to mimic pediatric epilepsy.
“We’ve realized they are actually a good model of human disorders and development,” Dr. Kurrasch said. “We can harness the power of zebrafish genetics to create genetic models of human diseases.”
The research is bringing new hope to families like the Olenicks. Krista, 15, has been experiencing seizures since she was 19 months old.
“Watching your child, not able to come out of it, we need rescue meds, we need to call an ambulance, it’s extremely terrifying,” her mother Cheryl Olenick said. “This new research gives us hope.”
Dr. Kurrasch says about a third of all epilepsy patients do not respond to current medications and that hasn’t changed in decades.
The zebrafish research is showing such great promise that human trials, which will include Krista, are planned for later this year.