Image: Erica P. Johnson
Treating people who have seizure disorders is a little like playing roulette. Place a bet on a drug from column A and hope for a hit. If that drug doesn't work, try one from column B. This process can drag on for months or years, and for many people with epilepsy--between 25% and 30%--relief from seizures never comes. With 40 to 50 million people experiencing seizures worldwide, this means that huge numbers of people receive no benefit from treatment.
One might think that epilepsy would be the poster child for pharmacogenomics. Steering people to the right personal drug would save billions in medical costs, plus reduce their pain and suffering. An Epilepsy Foundation study found that this disease costs the United States $12.5 billion annually, mostly stemming from loss of productivity borne largely by those with intractable or poorly controlled epilepsy.1
But what makes epilepsy...