A new US research programme is attempting to determine links between specific genetic variants and different types of epilepsy, which causes recurrent seizures (fits). Some forms of epilepsy can affect multiple family members, suggesting a genetic basis for the condition in such cases. The Epilepsy Phenome/Genome Project (EPGP) is a five-year study that will bring together researchers from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke with clinicians and affected families from centres across the US (see Medical News Today article).
Epilepsy is not always easy to diagnose; there are various possible underlying causes including brain damage or infection, but the majority of cases have no known cause. It is hoped that the study, now recruiting a projected 3750 epilepsy patients and 3000 controls, might ultimately lead to improvements in diagnostic and therapeutic capability for the condition by identifying genes that influence both epilepsy and responses of affected individuals to anti-epileptic medicines.