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Two papers by early career researchers in our Oxford Epilepsy Research Group have been highlighted recently.

Doctor behind desk consulting patient

An app to help diagnose convulsive epilepsy

Gabriel Jones, a medically-trained computer scientist and software developer in our Department, was the lead author on a paper published in Lancet Digital Health: ‘Development and validation of a diagnostic aid for convulsive epilepsy in sub-Saharan Africa: a retrospective case-control study’. This paper was placed first in the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Epilepsy and Neurological Disorders in Colorado in March 2023.

Identification of convulsive epilepsy in sub-Saharan Africa relies on access to resources that are often unavailable. Infrastructure and resource requirements can further complicate case verification.

Using machine-learning techniques, the researchers developed a free app for health-care workers. This has the potential to revolutionise care across sub-Saharan Africa as, with high fidelity, primary health care workers can now diagnose convulsive epilepsy.

The link between epilepsy and vascular disease

Xin You Tai, Wellcome Trust Academic Clinical Fellow and Dphil student in our Department, was the lead author on a paper published in JAMA – Neurology: ‘Association of Dementia Risk With Focal Epilepsy and Modifiable Cardiovascular Risk Factors’. This paper has been selected by the European Academy of Neurology as their paper of the month, April 2023.

Epilepsy has been associated with cognitive impairment and potentially dementia in older individuals. However, the extent to which epilepsy may increase dementia risk, how this compares with other neurological conditions, and how modifiable cardiovascular risk factors may affect this risk remain unclear.

In this study using data from UK Biobank, focal epilepsy was associated with a significant risk of developing dementia, to a greater extent than stroke, which was magnified substantially in individuals with high cardiovascular risk. Further findings suggest that targeting modifiable cardiovascular risk factors may be an effective intervention to reduce dementia risk in individuals with epilepsy. This work combines hypotheses proposed by Arjune Sen and Masud Husain in 2018 and confirms their validity with empiric data.