Published on 26/05/2023
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Dr Felix Chan
  • Dr Felix Chan awarded £174k grant to study Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) and epilepsy by Epilepsy Research UK
  • The new study will investigate lysine metabolism as a therapeutic target for epilepsy in TSC
  • Research designed with TSC and epilepsy patient community through Tuberous Sclerosis Association and Epilepsy Research UK.

A researcher based in Aston Institute for Health and Neurodevelopment has been awarded a prestigious Endeavour Project Grant of £174,495 by Epilepsy Research UK. 

The grant will fund a 36-month study entitled ‘Lysine Metabolism as a therapeutic target for epilepsy in tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC)’.

The study will focus on Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), a rare genetic disease that causes non-cancerous tumours to grow in the brain and other areas of the body. TSC is often accompanied by epilepsy, which affects around 80% of people with the condition. Importantly, epilepsy in TSC is the highest cause of death and remains an unmet clinical need for TSC patients as it is hard to treat with currently available medications.

Dr Felix Chan’s research will investigate the potential of lysine metabolism as a therapeutic target for epilepsy in TSC. This involves understanding how the body processes the amino acid lysine and how it can be manipulated to reduce seizures in people with TSC. 

A therapeutic target is a biological molecule, biological pathway or physiological response that is associated with a particular disease process and may be inhibited or activated by a therapy in a way that will change the course of the disease in a positive way.

The study will also involve a PhD studentship to work with Dr Chan, Professor Gavin Woodhall and collaborator Professor Wyatt Yue from Newcastle University, with recruitment for intake expected in October 2023.

Dr Chan's research project is notable for its collaborative approach. The TSC and epilepsy patient community has been involved in the study design process through collaboration with the Tuberous Sclerosis Association TSC Research Volunteer Network and the Epilepsy Research UK Shape Epilepsy Research Network.

Dr Felix Chan, lecturer in neuroscience, at Aston University, said: "I am delighted to have been awarded this Endeavour Project Grant from Epilepsy Research UK. TSC is a rare genetic disease that affects around one in 6,000 people and can have a profound impact on individuals and their families. My hope is that this research will contribute to the development of new treatments for epilepsy in TSC, improving the lives of those affected by this condition."

Dr Pooja Takhar, joint chief executive of the Tuberous Sclerosis Association, added: "We are pleased to see that the most important voice in TSC - individuals and families living with the condition itself - has been included in the design process of this vital research project. This ensures that the research is focused on the areas that are of most importance to those living with TSC, boosting the potential impact on the lives of people with TSC."

Epilepsy Research UK's Endeavour Project Grants support innovative and ambitious research projects that have the potential to significantly improve the lives of people with epilepsy. The grants are highly competitive, and only a small number are awarded each year.

For more information about Aston Institute of Health and Neurodevelopment please visit our website.

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University is ranked 22nd in the UK in the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.

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