These are questions with answers that are most commonly asked. Many of these questions have been submitted through to and answered by Dr Simcock, a neurologist and the Neurological Foundation’s Medical Advisor.

  • Is epilepsy inherited?

    Epilepsy is the result of a large number of disorders. A very few of these are inherited. One type of epilepsy that has a moderate tendency to be inherited is juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.

    Recently, an Australian group has found that an unusual type of epilepsy, nocturnal frontal-lobe epilepsy, is strongly inherited and the gene responsible for the disorder has been identified.

  • Is Motor Neuron Disease hereditary? Are you able to have tests to see if you are likely to develop MND? Is there more than one type of MND?

    In about 10% of patients with Motor Neuron Disease (MND), it is inherited. So in 90% it occurs without any known predisposition or cause. About 20% of the inherited cases are caused by a genetic mutation that can be tested - but as this accounts for only 2% of all patients, it is not a recommended test.

    There are different types of MND - e.g. with predominantly upper motorneuron involvement, with predominantly lower motorneuron involvement or with mainly bulbar involvement. Another variant is lower motorneuron involvement with a benign course.

  • Is there a list for candidates for Huntington's stem cell research?

    At present, research on stem cells in Huntington's Chorea is being done in the laboratory and not on patients.

    When clinical trials start on patients, this will be mentioned in "Headlines", the quarterly publication of the Neurological Foundation.

  • Is there a test for Alzheimer's disorder?

    There is no specific test for Alzheimer's Disease. An MR head scan can show atrophy (shrinkage) of part of the temporal lobe of the brain, genetic tests may show an increased predisposition to the disease and special tests on the spinal fluid may show abnormalities, but none of these tests give a yes/no answer.

  • Is there a test for CFS?

    Usually, all blood tests, neurophysiology, and MRI scans are normal. Variable abnormalities of the white blood cells and other tests of immune function have been reported, but there is no consistent abnormality in CFS. A very few patients with CFS have an abnormal MRI: some patients with MS have fatigue as a prominent symptom and it is possible that CFS is occasionally the first manifestation of MS.