The appearance of a certain set of molecules in the blood can predict an epileptic seizure, according to new research by scientists based at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).
There are about 40,000 people with epilepsy in Ireland, and one third of those do not respond to current treatments which means they must live in the knowledge that a seizure could strike at any time.
The scientists are hopeful that their research will lead to the development of a simple, easy-to-use, affordable test, similar to the blood glucose test for diabetics, that people with epilepsy could use themselves.
“This could be something that could give people an understanding of whether they were likely to have a seizure, or whether it was completely unlikely,” said Prof David Henhsall, director of the FutureNeuro research centre at the RCSI.
The current methods used to diagnose and try to predict seizures include EEG and MRI scanning. However, Prof Henshall said these are cumbersome and expensive, often do not provide a result, and in the case of EEG scans, require an implant to be inserted into the brain.
He said these issues led the RCSI researchers to see if a simpler, more effective test for epilepsy and seizures could be found by measuring molecules in the blood.