Epilepsy drug may work against the disease in many ways

June 2nd, 2009 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 2 (IANS) A drug that can potentially prevent epilepsy caused by a genetic condition may also help halt epilepsy caused by brain injury, according to a new study.
Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) in St Louis found that the FDA-approved drug Rapamycin blocks brain changes believed to cause seizures in rats.

Last year, the same group showed that Rapamycin prevents brain changes in mice triggered by one of the most common genetic causes of epilepsy, tuberous sclerosis (TS).

“We hope to shift the focus from stopping seizures to preventing the brain abnormalities that cause seizures in the first place, and our results in the animal models so far have been encouraging,” said senior study author Michael Wong.

One percent of the population has epilepsy, which can result from genetic mutations, brain injuries and environmental insults. According to Wong, one-third of that group does not respond well to current anti-seizure medications.

“Researchers have traditionally tested potential epilepsy drugs on animals that were already having seizures,” Wong said. “We may be able to improve our success rate by stepping back a little and trying to find a treatment that can halt the disease process prior to the start of seizures.”

Rapamycin is currently being evaluated in clinical trials as a treatment for the brain tumours caused by TS, said a WUSM release.

The study was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

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