Cornwall is UK leader in epilepsy research

In recognition of SUDEP Action Day on 23 October, a research team at Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) has launched a specialist project to develop expertise in treating epilepsy in those with learning disabilities.

Cornwall is UK leader in epilepsy research

The research being undertaken is a first for the UK.

  • Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) affects around 600 people in the UK every year.
  • There are around 1.4million people in the UK with learning disabilities.
  • 30% of people with epilepsy have a learning disability.
  • Anyone with epilepsy is 20X higher to die suddenly than someone without.
  • This is 3 to 9X more than someone without a learning disability who has epilepsy.

Up until now, in the UK there has been no scientific research conducted into those with a learning disability and living with epilepsy. As anti-seizure medication can respond differently within this patient group, CFT’s Mental Health Research Team has formally launched a place for studies, and where expertise can be developed.

Although the foundations for the CIDER Project have been laid for many years, studies into the responsiveness of different anti-epileptic drugs in this patient group will look into genetics, DNA and research for the future, resulting in more effective prescribing of anti-seizure medication. The CIDER Project will provide an umbrella for the research undertaken.

Dr. Rohit Shankar, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Director of Research for the CIDER project commented “60% of people with a learning disability and epilepsy are resistant to seizure treatment, so have a higher risk of SUDEP

“Those with learning disabilities and epilepsy are being failed by the lack of research globally into their condition. Epilepsy is the number one chronic cause of death in this patient group, so it is vital that we look into their outcomes compared to the general population. CIDER is a 10 year project and already we are working internationally to develop our research.”

“The CIDER Project has developed into one of the UK’s leaders in research and innovation for people with learning disabilities and epilepsy. To date, we have published 24 peer viewed research papers and led in writing guidelines for the Royal College of Psychiatrists for prescribing in this condition” added Richard Laugharne, CIDER Project Curator and a Consultant Psychiatrist at CFT.