Autoimmune Encephalitis- a clinical project. Which anti-epileptic is most effective in controlling autoimmune encephalitis associated seizures?

Research Opportunity
PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Project Status
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Mastura Monif Personal web page
Professor Terry O'Brien Personal web page

Project Details

Autoimmune encephalitides are a diverse yet rare group of neurological conditions presenting with acute or subacute confusion, behavioural change, cognitive deficits and seizures. The morbidity and mortality associated with autoimmune encephalitis can be quite high with major implications to the patients as well as their family members. A proportion of autoimmune encephalitis cases are mediated by autoantibodies directed against synaptic proteins in the central nervous system. Patients with autoimmune encephalitis can present with various types of seizures. The clinical features (semiology) of these seizures and the associated EEG (electroencephalogram) abnormalities are not fully understood. Also it’s unclear if escalating immunotherapy versus antiepileptic medication can be helpful in treating seizures associated with these autoimmune conditions.

The aim of this study is to do a retrospective analysis of cases with autoimmune encephalitis from Royal Melbourne Hospital. We hope to characterize some of the clinical features of autoimmune encephalitis, including the semiology of seizures as well as associated laboratory and brain imaging abnormalities. Using medical records from the hospital, we will search for all the cases of ‘autoimmune encephalitis’ that have been previously diagnosed (meeting diagnostic criteria as per Graus et al Lancet, 2016). Various patient demographics, clinical presentation, type of seizure, EEG abnormalities, laboratory investigations (inflammatory markers, biochemistry), MRI findings, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, and any other relevant investigation (i.e., CT scans, PET scans) will be recorded.

The main aim of this project is to decipher which anti-epileptic medication was associated with better response in controlling seizures? Also the effect of escalating antiepileptic therapy versus immunotherapy (therapies targeting the immune system, i.e., steroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, steroid sparing agents, plasma exchange) will be documented. Records of follow up appointments (outpatients) will be analysed to identify if the patient’s condition improved, remained stable or deteriorated.

This project is entirely clinical and it is designed to improve our understanding of seizures associated with autoimmune encephalitis especially focusing on treatment modalities and identifying the most effective therapies.

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Research Opportunities

PhD, Masters by Research, Honours, Master of Biomedical Science
Graduate Research Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other Graduate Research requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

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Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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