Home » Neurology » A more in-depth understanding of epilepsy is shaping a different research approach

Stefanie Dedeurwaerdere

Head of Epilepsy Discovery Research, UCB 

Millions of people around the world are affected by epilepsy. The science behind research is moving in exciting new directions.

At UCB, we have been focused on the research and development of treatments for epileptic seizures for more than 20 years, and our commitment to providing solutions for those in need continues. We are working towards a future where we hope to impact the underlying causes of the epilepsies and potentially change the course of disease. 

To date, the research field has mainly focused on treating epilepsy symptoms (ie. seizures). However, a growing understanding of how and why seizures occur is taking research in exciting new directions. 

An important shift in the field has been 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 primary or most impactful symptom.  

Looking into underlying causes of epilepsy 

Our approach to epilepsy research at UCB is grounded in developing a better understanding of the molecular signatures and pathways of underlying disease — getting to the root cause of specific conditions. With this, it is our ambition to define and regroup epilepsy populations based on mechanisms with a view of developing more targeted approaches. 

Our commitment to epilepsy research has never been stronger, and as science advances, so does our curiosity.

For example, when we understand the root cause of certain epilepsies, it opens opportunities to potentially target the underlying mechanisms that cause disease directly. 

But for complex epilepsies, where mechanisms may be less well-understood, the situation is even 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, which may help us to identify novel areas for future investigation. 

Innovation is at our core 

Our commitment to epilepsy research has never been stronger, and as science advances, so does our curiosity. We are hopeful for the future, and we will learn and refine our thinking as we progress. Innovation is at our core, meaning we are constantly evolving and changing as new technologies, trends, research findings and ideas emerge. Not everything will work, and this is part of the learning — but research is in a good place. 

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