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Epilepsy genetics: clinical beginnings and social consequences

Johnston, Janet Ann, Rees, M. I. and Smith, Philip E. M. 2009. Epilepsy genetics: clinical beginnings and social consequences. QJM 102 (7) , pp. 497-499. 10.1093/qjmed/hcp019

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Abstract

The approach to epilepsy care has transformed in the last 30 years, with more and better anti-epileptic medications, improved cerebral imaging and increased surgical options. Alongside this, developments in neuroscience and molecular genetics have furthered the understanding of epileptogenesis. Future developments in pharmacogenomics hold the promise of antiepileptic drugs matched to specific genotypes. Despite this rapid progress, one-third of epilepsy patients remain refractory to medication, with their seizures impacting upon day-to-day activity, social well-being, independence, economic output and quality of life. International genome collaborations, such as HapMap and the Welcome Trust Case–Control Consortium single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping project have identified common genetic variations in diseases of major public health importance. Such genetic signposts should help to identify at-risk populations with a view to producing more effective pharmaceutical treatments. Neurological disorders, despite comprising one-fifth of UK acute medical hospital admissions, are surprisingly under-represented in these projects. Epilepsy is the commonest serious neurological disorder worldwide. Although physically, psychologically, socially and financially disabling, it rarely receives deserved attention from physicians, scientists and governmental bodies. As outlined in this article, research into epilepsy genetics presents unique challenges. These help to explain why the identification of its complex genetic traits has lagged well behind other disciplines, particularly the efforts made in neuropsychiatric disorders. Clinical beginnings must underpin any genetic understanding in epilepsy. Success in identifying genetic traits in other disorders does not make the automatic case for genome-wide screening in epilepsy, but such is a desired goal. The essential clinical approach of accurately phenotyping, diagnosing and interpreting the dynamic nature of epilepsy remains fundamental to harvesting its potential translational outcomes.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 1460-2725
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 03:46
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/26393

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