New research has discovered a pattern of molecules that appear in the blood before a seizure happens.

The discovery may lead to the development of an early warning system, which could enable people with epilepsy to know when they are at risk of having a seizure - similar to a diabetic finger prick test.

Around 40,000 people in Ireland have epilepsy and one third of those do not respond to current treatments, meaning they continue to experience seizures.

Patients with epilepsy at Beaumont Hospital and at a hospital in Germany were part of the study.

"New technologies to remove the unpredictability of uncontrolled seizures for people with epilepsy are a very real possibility," said Professor David Henshall, Director of FutureNeuro and Professor of Molecular Physiology and Neuroscience at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland who was a co-author on the research paper.

"People with epilepsy often report that one of the most difficult aspects of living with the disease is never knowing when a seizure will occur," said Dr Marion Hogg, FutureNeuro investigator, Honorary Lecturer at RCSI, and the study's lead author.

It is hoped that a test might be developed in several years.