Blood test may predict seizures, study suggests

Published: June 18 2019
Last updated: September 28 2022

Researchers may have found a way to predict seizures in people with epilepsy using a blood test, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Scientists at research centre FutureNeuro and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) carried out the study.

Researchers Dr Marion Hogg and her colleagues collected blood samples from 16 people with hard-to-treat focal epilepsy. The participants underwent video EEG monitoring and a second blood sample was taken 24 hours after they had had a seizure. Samples were also taken from people without epilepsy for comparison.

The study found that before a seizure happened, there was a rise in the levels of a few particles in the blood samples. The researchers explained that activity in brain cells causes chemicals called tRNAs to break down into the particles seen in the blood samples.

The findings showed a spike in the levels of these particles before a seizure came on.

Lead author of the study, Dr Hogg, said: “People with epilepsy often report that one of the most difficult aspects of living with the disease is never knowing when a seizure will occur.

“The results of this study are very promising. We hope that our tRNA research will be a key first step towards developing an early warning system.”

Professor David Henshall, study author and director of FutureNeuro explained that the research paves the way for a prediction tool. He said FutureNeuro hopes to develop a device, similar to a blood sugar monitor, to predict when a seizure might occur.

You can find the full journal article on the Journal of Clinical Investigation website.