A new drug that inhibits neonatal seizures in rodent models could open up new avenues for the treatment of epilepsy in human newborns. Researchers have identified that gluconate—a small organic compound found in fruit and honey—acts as an anticonvulsant, inhibiting seizures by targeting the activity of channels that control the flow of chloride ions in and out of neonatal neurons. A paper describing the research, from an international team of scientists led by Penn State researchers, appears May 15, 2019 in the journal Molecular Brain.
“Neonates are the most vulnerable population to seizures but there is still no effective medication for the treatment of neonatal epilepsy,” said Gong Chen, professor of biology and the Verne M. Willaman Chair in Life Sciences at Penn State and the leader of the research team. “The incidence of epilepsy is highest in the first year of life, with two to four infant babies suffering from neonatal epilepsy for every 1,000 live births in the United States. Unfortunately, so far there is no effective drug available that is specifically developed for neonatal epilepsy patients.”