Advances in Epilepsy Research
There is good news this Epilepsy Awareness Month for the more than three million adults in the U.S. who suffer from the serious neurological disorder. Epilepsy is diagnosed based on a person’s tendency to suffer recurring seizures that seem to come on at random. But more is being learned about the impact of certain physiological process that point to potential causes, which researchers hope will lead to answers on how to treat, prevent and ultimately cure the disorder.
In one recent study, researchers observed that changes in concentration of the stress hormone cortisol and the timing of when it released had a significant bearing on when seizures occur. So do changes in sleep patterns. Those findings have been monitored over time in affected and control groups so that when mathematical modeling is applied, triggers for seizures are more identifiable.
Another study published in October reviewed an investigational treatment for adults with treatment-resistant epilepsy. While clinical trials are moving into the next phase now, the medication, known as a novel potassium channel opener, was shown to reduce the number of seizures by more than 50 percent.
Finally, researchers from the University of Colorado developed a standardized EHR (electronic health records) tool that helped clinicians evaluate treatment effectiveness by providing more reliable seizure data. Implementation of the tool could help clinicians better optimize treatment for epilepsy patients.
These advances in epilepsy research hold promise for improved diagnosis, treatment, and the overall well-being of individuals living with epilepsy. Ongoing research efforts, including those using donated post mortem brain tissue, continue to expand our understanding of this complex neurological disorder.