Epilepsy genetics: Current knowledge, applications, and future directions

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Abstract

The rapid pace of disease gene discovery has resulted in tremendous advances in the field of epilepsy genetics. Clinical testing with comprehensive gene panels, exomes, and genomes are now available and have led to higher diagnostic rates and insights into the underlying disease processes. As such, the contribution to the care of patients by medical geneticists, neurogeneticists and genetic counselors are significant; the dysmorphic examination, the necessary pre- and post-test counseling, the selection of the appropriate next-generation sequencing-based test(s), and the interpretation of sequencing results require a care provider to have a comprehensive working knowledge of the strengths and limitations of the available testing technologies. As the underlying mechanisms of the encephalopathies and epilepsies are better understood, there may be opportunities for the development of novel therapies based on an individual's own specific genotype. Drug screening with in vitro and in vivo models of epilepsy can potentially facilitate new treatment strategies. The future of epilepsy genetics will also probably include other—omic approaches such as transcriptomes, metabolomes, and the expanded use of whole genome sequencing to further improve our understanding of epilepsy and provide better care for those with the disease.

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