Epilepsy biobanking

In partnership with hospitals across Ireland, RCSI has established and developed multiple different epilepsy-related biobanks. These include the Genetics of Epilepsy biobank, designed to facilitate research on the genetic causes and treatment of epilepsy, the Epilepsy Surgical Tissue biobank, which supports research on the cellular and molecular basis of epilepsy and the effects of seizures on the brain, and the Epilepsy Biomarkers study, designed to discover and validate circulating molecules which can help with diagnosis.

These collections have facilitated major breakthroughs in our understanding of epilepsy, discoveries that have impacted how the condition is diagnosed and treated. For example, data from the Genetics of Epilepsy biobank helped in the development of a test to identify people at high risk of severe skin-related adverse reactions to tegretol (carbamazepine). This finding was so important it led to a change in the instructions label for the drug. Data from our Genetics of Epilepsy biobank has also helped improve our ability to identify specific genetic changes that either cause epilepsy themselves, or increase the risk of developing epilepsy.

Research using brain samples has led to the discovery of several new processes that are activated in epileptic tissue that underlie seizures. These findings are leading to the development of new drug-like molecules and advanced cell therapies. We have also discovered molecules in blood samples that change before and after seizures in patients. This finding has the potential to support diagnosis of a seizure and perhaps help forecast when a seizure may occur. These biobanks are also an important facilitator for research at FutureNeuro, the SFI Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Disorders.

Through supporting and participating in these biobanks, people with epilepsy and other members of the public can contribute in a very tangible manner to improving our understanding of these conditions, and ultimately improving quality of life and care.

Since the foundation of the first epilepsy biobank at RCSI in 2002, epilepsy biobanks have relied on the financial support of different funders including the Higher Education Authority (under the PRTLI scheme), the Health Research Board, Epilepsy Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and the European Commission.

If you would like to receive more information, on your own behalf or on behalf of a relative, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


For information about donating/participating in research please contact:

Austin Lacey, Clinical Project Coordinator, SFI FutureNeuro Research Centre, RCSI, Dublin 2

For information about the tissue and biomarker bank please contact:

Amaya Sanz Rodriguez, Clinical Project Coordinator, SFI FutureNeuro Research Centre, RCSI, Dublin 2