London Health Sciences Centre develops genetic test for epilepsy

An individual’s genetics have a part to play in over half the cases of people living with epilepsy.

With an estimated 200,000 Canadians with the disorder, many are unaware if there is or is not a genetic link. A new cutting-edge test created by a team of Canadian researchers at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), and offered across North America by Dynacare, is helping epilepsy patients uncover if they have an underlying genetic cause of disease, and to use this information to better inform treatment.

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more) that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar.

The Epilepsy Gene Panel test is offered by the Dynacare Impact Genetics lab out of Bowmanville, Ontario with results provided by the LHSC team. The test comes in two forms: The Comprehensive Panel, which looks at 69 genes associated with epilepsy; and the Management Impact Panel which targets 16 genes associated with treatable metabolic disorders in which seizures can occur.

The tests provide a highly accurate assessment of changes in genes associated with
epileptic disorders. It is important for those living with epilepsy to discover if they have an underlying genetic condition causing their epilepsy so they can:

• explain comorbidities (the simultaneous presence of two diseases or conditions in a patient);
• inform prognosis;
• define risks to relatives and future children;
• manage their epilepsy better, and;
• influence treatment choices.

More people live with epilepsy than with autism spectrum disorders, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy – combined.

The test was developed by Dr. Bekim Sadikovic and the molecular genetics team at the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). All patient samples (except Ontario which continues to be tested at LHSC) are sent to Dynacare for testing and informatics and reporting are provided by LHSC. The test is provided under CAP/CLIA and ISOO quality standards and sold by Dynacare, a LabCorp company.

Dynacare continues to expand its internationally-recognized portfolio of genetic test solutions, and is
searching for additional Canadian innovations and partnerships to bring new and unique genetic test solutions to the Canadian, US and international markets.

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