Jacqueline French, MD: Identifying Focal Epilepsy Seizures


The director of Translational Research and Clinical Trials Epilepsy at NYU Grossman School of Medicine discussed the groundwork done with the Human Epilepsy Project for a recent analysis.

“What we started to find out is that these seizures, that [patients] were now getting treated for and diagnosed with, in many cases had been going on for a long time before they came to medical attention.”

Recently, an analysis as part of the larger Human Epilepsy Project suggested that overcoming the obstacles that prevent an earlier diagnosis of focal epilepsy might help prevent the morbidity-related consequences of the delays in identifying new-onset disease, such as motor vehicle accidents.

The project, which includes an international team of over 300 doctors, researchers, healthcare workers, and patients at 27 hospitals, was developed to study the biomarkers of new-onset focal epilepsy. The analysis, published in October 2020, consisted of 246 participants with nonmotor seizures and 201 participants with motor seizures at disease onset, and ultimately showed that those with nonmotor seizures experienced a delay in median time to diagnosis from first seizure tenfold that of those with motor seizures (P <.001).

To find out more about this work, the findings so far, and how it came to be, NeurologyLive reached out to study author Jacqueline French, MD, professor of neurology, and director, Translational Research and Clinical Trials in Epilepsy, NYU Grossman School of Medicine. French shared some insight into the project and what this analysis highlighted.

Pellinen J, Tafuro E, Yang A, et al. Focal nonmotor versus motor seizures: The impact on diagnostic delay in focal epilepsy. Epilepsia. Published online October 20, 2020. doi: 10.1111/epi.16707
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