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Advancing the management of childhood epilepsies

Journal title
European journal of paediatric neurology : EJPN : official journal of the European Paediatric Neurology Society
Publication year
Cross, J. H.; Kluger, G.; Lagae, L.

Childhood epilepsies comprise a heterogeneous group of disorders and syndromes that vary in terms of severity, prognosis and treatment requirements. Effective management requires early, accurate recognition and diagnosis, and a holistic approach that addresses each individual’s medical and psychosocial needs within the context of their overall health status and quality of life. With increasing understanding of underlying aetiologies, new approaches to management and treatment are emerging. For example, genetic testing is beginning to provide a tool to aid differential diagnosis and a means of predicting predisposition to particular types of epilepsy. Despite the availability of an increasing number of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)–due not only to the development of new AEDs, but also to changes in regulatory requirements that have facilitated clinical development–seizure control and tolerability continue to be suboptimal in many patients, and there is therefore a continuing need for new treatment strategies. Surgery and other non-pharmacological treatments (e.g. vagus nerve stimulation, ketogenic diet) are already relatively well established in paediatric epilepsy. New pharmacological treatments include generational advances on existing AEDs and AEDs with novel modes of action, and non-AED pharmacological interventions, such as immunomodulation. Emerging technologies include novel approaches allowing the delivery of medicinal agents to specific areas of the brain, and ‘closed-loop’ experimental devices employing algorithms that allow treatment (e.g., electrical stimulation) to be targeted both spatially and temporally. Although in early stages of development, cell-based approaches (e.g., focal targeting of adenosine augmentation) and gene therapy may also provide new treatment choices in the future.

Research abstracts