We received a lot of enquires about a recent story on Genetic factors into childhood Epilepsy (https://www.facebook.com/epilepsyconnections/posts/305882426669658?__tn__=K-R) and wanted to post a more detailed follow up on the topic.
Primarily - we wanted to highlight just how fast research is progressing into factors related to Epilepsy and other forms of seizures. But also compare just how much our understanding has progressed just in the past few decades.
Prior to things like Genetic medicine, scanning technology (like MRI / EEG), computer modelling systems and other factors - this was just a few decades ago - Epilepsy and seizure disorders were almost impossible to research on any meaningful level.
The term "Epilepsy" is a very old, general term which simply means "recurring and unexplained seizures" - as until recently that was all that could be diagnosed. We did not know "why, how or for what reason" seizures occurred. Most treatments / medications were discovered not through Epilepsy research - but buy accident through correlative studies that showed patients with other conditions INCLUDING Epilepsy had reduced seizures when being treated for the other condition. The treatments were then subsequently used for Epilepsy also.
At that point - all that was really medically confirmed was that "malformations or scarred Neurons" caused electrical flaring in the brain that resulted in seizures. But this is extremely basic from a medical perspective - it does not address "what the malformations are", it does not identify "how the malformations cause the electrical flaring", nor does it look at "how these malformations differ from normal Neural activity and systems"...
This is why until only a few decades ago the only real definition of seizures were "Aura", "Absence", Petit Mal" and "Gran Mal" - diagnosis based only on the symptoms, not the causes.
Advances in technology and more defined fields of research combined with new forms of medical studies (i.e. genetics) has now identified over 30+ kinds of seizures, with over 200+ subcategories - the majority of these are not even related to Epilepsy.
Most importantly however: they are identifying exactly how, why and for what reasons each kind of seizure occurs... plus the Genetic, Cellular, Neurological, Chemical (and more) systems that malfunction to cause each form.
By finding the exact combination of biological "errors" that occur in each case we are finally at the stage where proactive research can be done. Our following series of stories will cover some of the exciting examples of new, complex discoveries into seizures - and how subsequent treatments will be radically improved.
Paul Lang: ECA CEO & Founder