There are no short-term preventive drugs for patients with epilepsy, mainly because the onset of seizures cannot be predicted. Seizures occur without any warning sign and can lead to disability or even death. But Michel Le Van Quyen and colleagues from Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, suggest in 19 January issue of Lancet that it may be possible to predict the onset of seizures by analysing the trace of an electroencephalogram (EEG).

The researchers analysed 26 recordings from 60 minutes before a seizure in 23 patients with temporal-lobe epilepsy. In 25 of 26 recordings, measurements of non-linear changes in EEG signals indicate a clearly detectable transition phase that may last for many minutes. This enabled a seizure to be anticipated on average seven minutes before it occurred.

For clinical applications it may be technically difficult to develop chronic implantable recording devices combined with intracranial drug-delivery systems, but researchers feel that...

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