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Lancet Neurol. 2016 Jul;15(8):843-856. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(16)00112-5.

Advances in the development of biomarkers for epilepsy.

Author information

Department of Neurobiology, A I Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland.
Department of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Germany; Center for Systems Neuroscience, Hannover, Germany.
Department of Neuroscience, Experimental Neurology, IRCCS-Istituto di Recerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri", Milan, Italy.
Section for Translational Epilepsy Research, Department of Neuropathology, University of Bonn Medical Center, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
Department of Medical Sciences, Section of Pharmacology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy; Unit of Gene Therapy of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Division of Neuroscience, University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.
The Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.
Preclinical Molecular Imaging, Department of Nuclear Medicine, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel; Department of Medical Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.
Department of Neuropathology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, Center for Neuroscience, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Stichting Epilepsie Instellingen Nederland (SEIN), Heemstede, Netherlands.
Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, Center for Neuroscience, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK; Epilepsy Society, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, UK.
Epilepsy Center, Experimental Epilepsy Group, Division of Neurology, Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.
Laboratory for Experimental Epileptology and Cognition Research, Department of Epileptology, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany; German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Bonn, Germany. Electronic address:


Over 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy. In nearly 30% of these cases, epilepsy remains unsatisfactorily controlled despite the availability of over 20 antiepileptic drugs. Moreover, no treatments exist to prevent the development of epilepsy in those at risk, despite an increasing understanding of the underlying molecular and cellular pathways. One of the major factors that have impeded rapid progress in these areas is the complex and multifactorial nature of epilepsy, and its heterogeneity. Therefore, the vision of developing targeted treatments for epilepsy relies upon the development of biomarkers that allow individually tailored treatment. Biomarkers for epilepsy typically fall into two broad categories: diagnostic biomarkers, which provide information on the clinical status of, and potentially the sensitivity to, specific treatments, and prognostic biomarkers, which allow prediction of future clinical features, such as the speed of progression, severity of epilepsy, development of comorbidities, or prediction of remission or cure. Prognostic biomarkers are of particular importance because they could be used to identify which patients will develop epilepsy and which might benefit from preventive treatments. Biomarker research faces several challenges; however, biomarkers could substantially improve the management of people with epilepsy and could lead to prevention in the right person at the right time, rather than just symptomatic treatment.

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