Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI to embark on major study to help personalise care in epilepsy treatment

20 January 2012

The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has been awarded major funding for research to improve the treatment of epilepsy. The research aims to explore how individual patients react to different epilepsy drugs on the basis of their DNA so that the most effective medication can be prescribed safely to treat them.

RCSI is one of 15 partner institutions from eight countries to receive almost €6 million funding from the European Union FP7 programme to investigate this genetic basis of responses to antiepileptic drugs as part of the EpiPGX Consortium.

Dr. Norman Delanty, Consultant Neurologist and RCSI clinical lead said "In Europe, several antiepileptic drugs are available for prescription for people with epilepsy, but the evidence guiding the choice of drug for an individual patient is very limited. Doctors often have to try out several drugs before finding the appropriate one for their patient, which can take some time and can have a negative impact on the patient's life until their epilepsy stabilises."

Dr Gianpiero Cavalleri, Biomedical Research Lecturer, who will lead the RCSI genetics team involved said: "We are looking to identify genetic changes that predict those that might respond very well to a particular drug, or those that might have an adverse reaction to another drug. By understanding these genetic predictors, doctors can prescribe the safest and most effective drug for a patient."

37,000 people in Ireland have epilepsy and worldwide it is estimated that 50 million have epilepsy with six million of these living in Europe. (Source: Brainwave - The Irish Epilepsy Association)

The newly funded research consortium is coordinated by University College London's Institute of Neurology and includes partner institutions in Belgium, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

This latest funding award strengthens RCSI's position as leading centre for epilepsy genetics research and follows on their participation in a $25 million grant awarded by the US National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke in 2011 for a worldwide study looking at the genetic basis of epilepsy