As many as 6 million people in Europe have active epilepsy with associated implications not only for their health but for independent living, education and employment, mobility, relationships, and insurance. The resulting economic burden has been estimated at 18 billion euro annually (European White Paper on Epilepsy 2001). Although the European epileptological community has an important tradition of scientific research, according to the conclusions of the European White Paper on Epilepsy (2001), it lacks central coordination. Epidemiological observations have led to the consensus that genetic factors play a central role, especially in the so-called idiopathic generalized epilepsies, and that maladaptive developmental processes also contribute to epileptogenesis (the development of epilepsy). Precisely what genetic factors are involved, and how they interact with developmental alterations, remains far from established. Moreover, their implication for understanding the principle of drug and other treatments of epilepsy is poorly understood.
EPICURE plans to mobilize the potential synergies of European research groups to find answers to these questions. EPICURE aims in particular to take advantage of the potentially powerful insights into pathophysiological pathways provided by genetics – both by identifying disease-causing genes and by understanding the contribution of candidate genes to pharmacoresistance.