Medication: Choosing the best medication
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Anti-epileptics and (cognitive) side effects

When choosing an AED, the search revolves around finding the right balance between the positive effect on the seizures and the negative effect of the side effects. AED’s are used for the long term and side effects can cause an undesirable effect. For instance, on cognitive functions such as concentration, information processing speed and/or memory, sometimes even without the patient being aware. Especially in the treatment of children it is important to recognize this effect and monitor the cognitive functioning of the child.

The better we understand which side effects occur when, why and by whom, the better medication can be prescribed. The better doctors, for instance via patient profiles, can weigh the advantages and risks of certain medication, the better patients can reliably give feedback on the side effects, the better the quality of life of chronic epilepsy patients. That is why scientific research on side effects of AED’s remains high on the research agenda at Kempenhaeghe.

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Predicting the effect of anti-epileptics

Even though there are guidelines on which medication to choose for a certain type of epilepsy, it remains hard to predict whether the medicine will work in an individual patient. Especially in a complex epilepsy the search for the right medication may take long. During this period the patient will continue to have seizures and possible side effects will occur.

Together with the researchers at the Radboudumc and Maastricht UMC+ Kempenhaeghe works on innovative scientific research to speed up this search for the right medication for individual patients. Key to this approach is to generate stem cells from the patient’s blood cells and turn them into brain cells. These braincells are placed in a dish containing a type of mini-EEG on the bottom measuring the electrical activity in the brain cells. By adding a medicine to the patient’s brain cells it becomes possible to determine whether the epileptic pattern shifts to become a non-epileptic pattern. The medicine could be the right medication for this particular patient. In the years to come it will become clear if this hopeful way of predicting is truly reliable.