Living in a post-linkage world, craving knowledge

Genomics meets linkage. This blog post is about family studies in epilepsy genetics. One of my tasks for the next two months is to write the “Trilateral Grant” – we were invited to submit a full proposal for a German-Israeli-Palestinian grant by the German Research Foundation (DFG) on the genetics of familial epilepsies. As keeping up our blogging schedule will be my other big task for the coming months, I thought that I could combine both and explore some topics regarding family studies on this blog. Let’s start with a sobering fact – small dominant families remain difficult to solve, not because of too little but rather too much genetic data. Continue reading

Chutzpah, Zen and Fahrvernügen – the 2013 Sde Boker workshop

Desert Dessert. Cold temperatures, streets closed because of snow – this is not what you expect when traveling to Israel. You also do not expect to have the chance to taste traditional Bedouin food and to see a beautiful canyon every morning. The biggest surprise is that you do not expect this during a workshop. From Dec 12-15th, the European epilepsy genetic community gathered in Be’er Sheva and Sde Boker, Israel for a combined epilepsy genetics workshop and a Young Researcher Meeting. This is a brief attempt to capture the atmosphere of this workshop for everybody who could not attend. By the way, “desert dessert” is a port wine produced in the Negev desert.

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From unaffected to Dravet Syndrome – extreme SCN1A phenotypes in a large GEFS+ family

The two faces of SCN1A. Even though the range of phenotypes associated with mutations in SCN1A can be conceptualized as a continuum, there are usually two distinct entities in clinical practice: the severe, epileptic encephalopathy of Dravet Syndrome due to de novo mutations and the usually mild fever-related epilepsies in autosomal dominant GEFS+ families. While Dravet Syndrome can also be seen in some families with Genetic Epilepsy with Febrile Seizures Plus (GEFS+), this is a rare phenomenon; there is usually little overlap between Dravet Syndrome and GEFS+. Within the Israel Epilepsy Family Project, we came across such a family with overlapping phenotypes. This recently published large GEFS+ family probably has the widest phenotypic range reported to date. Continue reading

Invitation for the 2013 Young Researchers Meeting

This time, the desert. After the successful meeting for Young Researchers in Epileptology in Kiel last year, we would like to invite young and senior researchers in the field for the 2013 meeting, which will take place on December 14th, 2013 in Sde Boker, Israel. This year’s meeting is embedded in a small international meeting from Dec 12th-14th on epilepsy genetics with the primary aim of bringing together researchers from Israel and Palestine. As last year, we would like to extend the invitation for this year’s Young Researchers Meeting in Epileptology to all young scientists involved in the field. Don’t forget to bring water and sunscreen; we’re going to the Negev Desert. Continue reading

ST3GAL3 and exome sequencing in autosomal recessive West Syndrome

Autosomal recessive West Syndrome. Exome sequencing and other high-throughput sequencing technologies work best in the identification of recessive disorders. While many cases of West Syndrome are thought to be the result of de novo mutations, recessive inheritance is seen in a subset of patients. In a recent paper in Epilepsia, Edvardson and colleagues now report mutations in ST3GAL3 in a consanguineous Palestinian family with four affected individuals with West Syndrome. This report takes us deep into the chromosomal anatomy of the linkage region, raising the question at what point we can claim that a gene is found. Continue reading

Traveling with Lennox – on my way to the Old New Land

On the road. For this week, the Channelopathist will be a travel blog. I am on my way to Israel where we will be busy recruiting and phenotyping epilepsy families for the EuroEPINOMICS project for the next seven days. This trip abroad gives me the opportunity to do something that I have been thinking about for quite some time: reading “Epilepsy and Related Disorders” by William G. Lennox, one of the pioneers of epilepsy genetics. I will try to put some thoughts on Lennox into words this week while spending my time down here in Israel. Continue reading