A new epilepsy gene for idiopathic epilepsy in Belgian Shepherds has been discovered in the canine chromosome 37. Professor Hannes Lohi, a lead researcher, along with his team at the University of Helsinki and the Folkhälsan Research Center, have opened up new possibilities for understanding the causes and triggers for the genetic beginnings of epilepsy in most common types of canine epilepsy conditions. As is often the case, this ground breaking research may also have a large impact on the understanding of common epilepsies in humans.
Based on their basic mechanisms epilepsy syndromes are divided into genetic (idiopathic) epilepsies, structural / metabolic (symptomatic) epilepsies and epilepsies of unknown cause. Symptomatic causes refer to discernible external or structural change, whereas with idiopathic epilepsy there is a strong genetic background. A common denominator between the different syndromes are reoccurring epileptic seizures, which are divided according to an international classification into two main groups — focal and generalized seizures — based on clinical symptoms and research findings.