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Disease Areas Epilepsy

Epilepsy

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological condition. There are many different types of epilepsy but the main characteristic is recurrent seizures1.

It is a disease of the brain and can be defined by any one of the following conditions2:


  • at least two unprovoked seizures occurring >24 hours apart

  • one unprovoked seizure and a probability of further seizures*
  • diagnosis of an epilepsy syndrome

* Similar to the general recurrence risk (at least 60%) after two unprovoked seizures, occurring over the next ten years

Around 65 million people have epilepsy worldwide3; it is especially prevalent in early childhood, in people over 65 and in old age1,3

What is a seizure?

Seizures types may vary from a very brief lapse in attention or muscle jerk to severe and prolonged convulsions. Seizures can also vary in frequency, from less than one a year to several per day4.

Seizures are divided into two main categories:

Focal seizures start in just one part of the brain1. Generalised seizures are the result of simultaneous abnormal activity in the whole of the brain5.

What are the different types of epilepsy syndromes?

There are many different types of epilepsy and doctors have identified over one hundred different epilepsy syndromes which are characterised by specific signs and symptoms depending on where in the brain they originate5. Specific classification is important as it guides treatment and determines prognosis.

 

 

How is epilepsy diagnosed?

The diagnosis of epilepsy is based on a detailed description of the events experienced by the patient before, during and after a seizure. Electroencephalography and other investigational technologies can support the clinical diagnosis of epilepsy and help with the classification of partial-onset or generalized seizures1.

Images of a brain scan

Facts

About half of people with newly diagnosed epilepsy become seizure free with their first anti-epileptic drug1
About a third of people with epilepsy live with uncontrolled seizures because no available treatment works for them1,6
A picture of Jérôme, who is living with Epilepsy

Jérôme's story:

To a man who loves sports, epilepsy has been only an obstacle to be leaped over, and a competitor to be bested. Jérôme has been active in sports for his whole life, testing his mettle in competitions of swimming, bicycling and running.

Click to read more

A picture of Jérôme, who is living with Epilepsy

Jerome's story:

To a man who loves sports, epilepsy has been only an obstacle to be leaped over, and a competitor to be bested. Jérôme has been active in sports for his whole life, testing his mettle in competitions of swimming, bicycling and running.

Click to read more

Taking control

The aim of treatment is to enable patients to lead a life as normal as possible, free from seizures and with minimal or no side effects. The choice of treatment needs to be carefully tailored to each patient and their type of seizure1.

At the start of pharmacological treatment, a single antiepileptic drug (AED) is generally given (monotherapy). Overall, 60-70% of patients become seizure free after the start of treatment with AEDs. If seizures are not controlled with the first or second AED, additional AEDs are usually added1.

A recent study, resulting from a research collaboration between the Epilepsy Foundation and UCB, reveals that using newer anti-epilepsy drugs, providing specialist care and switching medications following epilepsy-related hospital admissions are associated with better outcomes for people living with epilepsy11.

Non-pharmacological treatments may also be considered for some patients. Surgery may also be considered for patients with drug-resistant seizures1.

How does epilepsy affect daily life?

Epilepsy can be associated with profound physical, psychological and social consequences, and its impact on a person’s quality of life can be significant. Seizures can be unpredictable and there is often stigma associated with epilepsy7.

People with epilepsy can develop behavioural and emotional problems and have an increased risk of poor self-esteem, depression, and suicide8. Many people with epilepsy live in fear that they will have another seizure.

Epilepsy can also affect an individual’s education, employment opportunities, independence and notably their ability to drive and hold a driver’s licence5.




What's next?

At UCB, everything we do starts with a simple question: "how can we create more value for people living with severe diseases?".

UCB has made a major contribution to improving epilepsy care and continues to work on addressing key unmet needs in epilepsy, notably drug-resistant epilepsy and disease modification.

We contribute to cutting-edge research leading to the identification of novel AED targets 9, and validation of mechanisms that will pave the way for future therapeutic solutions for epilepsy patients10.