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The challenging genetics of epilepsy.

The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the clinical, epidemiological, genetic and animal studies that have led us to the conclusion that many forms of epilepsy are clearly inherited on a genetic basis. The genetics of epilepsy are complex. Many forms of epilepsy do not follow simple Mendelian patterns of inheritance and still elude clear genetic explanation. The challenge in these areas is evident, and at the end of this chapter some suggestions based on recent advances in molecular neurobiology are given that might explain some of these complex patterns of inheritance. Hopefully, the synthesis of clinical, epidemiological, genetic and biological studies will provide, in the next decade, a clearer understanding of this complex genetic picture. The challenge raised in the first workshop held in Minnesota in 1980 is being realized in this conference with clear evidence that juvenile myoclonic epilepsy and benign neonatal convulsions are linked to specific chromosomes in man. The challenge for the next decade and the strategies to meet that challenge are what will be outlined in this conference.

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