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New approaches in epilepsy research

Posted by
Stefanie Dedeurwaerdere, Epilepsy Discovery Research

At UCB, we have been leaders in the research and development of treatments for epileptic seizures for more than 20 years. In 2022, more than 2.6 million people living with epilepsy benefited from our anti-seizure medications, and our commitment to providing new solutions for those in need continues. We are working towards a future where we hope to impact the underlying causes of the epilepsies with disease modifying therapies which can change the course of the disease.

It is important to recognise that there are multiple types of epilepsy. In fact, we now more commonly refer to epilepsy as the ‘epilepsies,’ indicating that it’s not really a single disease. In addition, for many people — particularly those living with certain, rare epileptic syndromes — seizures are not the only impactful symptom.

As an industry, we've been very focused on seizures, which for so many patients, continues to be top of mind. But it’s essential that, in our focus on seizure suppression, we don’t neglect what changes in the brain are often underneath those seizures.

When we understand the root cause of certain epilepsies, it opens opportunities to target the underlying mechanisms that impact these diseases, through new treatment approaches. 

To further increase our understanding, we've been collaborating with universities on building one of the largest analyses of human brain tissues from epilepsy patients in the world, including > 200 samples. This in-depth study allows us to really comprehend the world of epilepsies as a global brain map, to quantify fully the different subtypes of epilepsy, understanding what they may have in common and what could be unique to specific conditions. 

For complex epilepsies, where mechanisms are less understood, the situation is more challenging. Here, we are building on genetics to help understand universal disease mechanisms across the epilepsies.

In addition, we have also developed an artificial intelligence computational framework in collaboration with various academic partners to investigate disease mechanisms and processes that helps us to identify novel areas for future therapeutic entry points. 

Our digital innovations are also key in allowing our patients to have a louder voice, to feel more empowered, and to know and understand their disease more thoroughly. The combination of more diverse treatment options and a more informed patient population will help bring us in an era where the treatments will be much more personalized, impacting patients’ lives in a more significant way. 

Our commitment to epilepsy research has never been stronger, and as the science advances so does our curiosity. We are hopeful for the future, and we will learn and refine our thinking as we progress.

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