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Incorporating epilepsy genetics into clinical practice: A 360° evaluation

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Stephanie Oates, Shan Tang, Richard Rosch, Rosalie Lear, Elaine F. Hughes, Ruth E. Williams, Line H.G. Larsen, Qin Hao, Hans Atli Dahl, Rikke S. Møller, Deb K. Pal

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Abstract

We evaluated a new epilepsy genetic diagnostic and counseling service covering a UK population of 3.5 million. We calculated diagnostic yield, estimated clinical impact, and surveyed referring clinicians and families. We costed alternative investigational pathways for neonatal onset epilepsy. Patients with epilepsy of unknown aetiology onset < 2years; treatment resistant epilepsy; or familial epilepsy were referred for counseling and testing. We developed NGS panels, performing clinical interpretation with a multidisciplinary team. We held an educational workshop for paediatricians and nurses. We sent questionnaires to referring paediatricians and families. We analysed investigation costs for 16 neonatal epilepsy patients. Of 96 patients, a genetic diagnosis was made in 34% of patients with seizure onset < 2 years, and 4% > 2 years, with turnaround time of 21 days. Pathogenic variants were seen in SCN8A, SCN2A, SCN1A, KCNQ2, HNRNPU, GRIN2A, SYNGAP1, STXBP1, STX1B, CDKL5, CHRNA4, PCDH19 and PIGT. Clinician prediction was poor. Clinicians and families rated the service highly. In neonates, the cost of investigations could be reduced from £9,362 to £2,838 by performing gene panel earlier and the median diagnostic delay of 3.43 years reduced to 21 days. Panel testing for epilepsy has a high yield among children with onset < 2 years, and an appreciable clinical and financial impact. Parallel gene testing supersedes single gene testing in most early onset cases that do not show a clear genotype-phenotype correlation. Clinical interpretation of laboratory results, and in-depth discussion of implications for patients and their families, necessitate multidisciplinary input and skilled genetic counseling

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