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UCLA launch study into epilepsy treatment

9 July, 2003

New research into the effectiveness of medication and surgery as treatments for epilepsy will be undertaken by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The research study, titled the Early Randomized Surgical Epilepsy Trial (ERSET), is sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and will offer an opportunity for participants to learn about early treatment for mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE). ERSET will also provide participants with care and attention at leading epilepsy centres in the United States.

Many doctors remain uncertain about the cost, safety and success rates of surgery and consider it a last resort. The most current data available, from 1990, shows that only 2,000 of the 100,000 eligible patients in the US that actually underwent the procedure despite the failure of medications to control their seizures. Surgery for MTLE involves the removal of a small amount of brain tissue that is the source of a person's seizures - earlier research suggests that surgery is superior to the medical treatment of long-standing MTLE.

Dr Jerome Engel Jr, professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the principal investigator for ERSET:

"Data suggests that seizures can cause memory loss and affect a child's ability to learn and pay attention in school. Persistence of seizures during adolescence and early adulthood commonly cause irreversible social and psychological consequences."

ERSET is looking to enrol approximately 200 participants across the United States. Eligible participants must be at least 12 years old and must also have experienced seizures disruptive to their lives for not more than two years. If they experienced seizures earlier in life that stopped and subsequently reemerged, they may still be eligible for this clinical research study. In addition, participants must have tried at least two different antiepileptic medications.