New research, published in the scientific journal Neurogenetics, shows that genetics may have an important influence over whether or not people with drug-resistant epilepsy continue to have seizures after surgery.This suggests that, in the future, a simple blood test could potentially be used to help doctors assess whether or not epilepsy surgery will be beneficial.During the study, led by Dr Martin Weinand, at the University of Arizona, researchers analysed brain tissue from 24 people with epilepsy, aged between 12 and 59, who had undergone epilepsy surgery.They isolated RNA, a molecule related to DNA, from the brain tissue that had been removed, and then divided the samples into two groups: those from people who became seizure-free following surgery and those from people who continued to have recurrent seizures.When the team analysed the RNA to determine which genes were active, and to what extent, they saw that the activity of four known and seven unknown genes was different between the two groups. They concluded that these genes could be used to predict whether or not people with epilepsy will have seizures following surgery.Epileptic seizures can be controlled by antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in approximately two-thirds of cases. Amongst those who don’t respond to AEDs, a small proportion may be eligible for epilepsy surgery to remove the area in which seizures arise (the focus), but they must undergo invasive assessment to assess the risks and benefits of this. One of the most important considerations (in addition to whether or not it is possible to remove the whole focus), is whether there is likely to be damage to regions of the brain that are responsible for language, memory and vision. Although surgery is effective in a significant proportion of cases, these are side effects that are often seen.The ability to predict the seizure outcome of surgery based on a person’s genetic make-up holds great promise in helping to decide whether or not surgery will be beneficial. It would not only speed up the surgical assessment process, but may also help to reduce the number of uncomfortable tests that are required.Author: Dr Özge ÖzkayaClick here for more articles about other treatments for epilepsy.