Exciting epilepsy research discoveries include two groundbreaking studies. Dr. Steven Petrou created “minibrains” using stem cells to better understand how neurons behave in children with epilepsy. Dr. Harald Sontheimer discovered the previously unknown function of perineuronal nets, which may lead to new treatments for acquired epilepsy. Both Dr. Petrou and Dr. Sontheimer are CURE grantees, and we’re thrilled to see these innovations from them beyond the work they do with us!
In diagnostic news regarding children with epilepsy, scientists are calling for parents to have their children’s genes reviewed at least every two years. This is to ensure their diagnoses and treatments are based on the latest discoveries.
Summaries of all highlighted studies follow below. I’ve organized the findings into four categories: Treatment Advances, Diagnostic Advances, Research Discoveries, and Also Notable.
Diacomit Add-On Therapy More Effective in Children with Dravet Syndrome Who Carry Pathogenic SCN1A Mutations, Study Shows
Diacomit (stiripentol) add-on therapy is more effective in children with Dravet syndrome who have pathogenic (disease-causing) SCN1A mutations than in those with variants of unknown significance and benign SCN1A mutations, a study has found.
GW Pharmaceuticals Announces Second Positive Phase 3 Pivotal Trial for EPIDIOLEX® (Cannabidiol) Oral Solution CV in Patients with Dravet Syndrome
GW Pharmaceuticals announces positive top-line results of the second randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 3 clinical trial of EPIDIOLEX® (cannabidiol or CBD) CV in the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of childhood-onset epilepsy.
Aquestive Therapeutics Announces FDA Approval for SYMPAZAN™ (clobazam) Oral Film
The FDA approved SYMPAZAN™ (clobazam) oral film for the adjunctive treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) in patients 2 years of age or older. SYMPAZAN is the first and only oral film FDA-approved to treat seizures associated with LGS. Previously, clobazam was marketed as ONFI® and offered in two formulations – either tablet or oral suspension.
Reanalyzing Gene Tests Prompts New Diagnoses in Kids
A new study from UT Southwestern quantifies for the first time how quickly rapid advancements in genomics may benefit patients. Research published in JAMA Pediatrics includes a five-year review of more than 300 epilepsy cases showing nearly a third of children had a change in diagnosis based on new data.
Could Lab-Grown Human Minibrains Help Treat Alzheimer’s and Epilepsy?
Featuring the work of CURE Grantee Dr. Steven Petrou
Florey Institute Director Dr. Steven Petrou leads research creating organoids to mimic the behavior of children’s brains with rare, debilitating forms of epilepsy. Replicating the way neurons behave in children with epilepsy using stem cells in a dish allowed the researchers to tailor a treatment; Petrou is on the verge of announcing a clinical trial of a gene therapy to treat one variant of the disorder.
Scientists Solve Century-Old Neuroscience Mystery; Answers May Lead to Epilepsy Treatment
Featuring the work of CURE Grantee Dr. Harald Sontheimer
A research team led by Dr. Harald Sontheimer determined that perineuronal nets, whose function was previously unknown, modulate electrical impulses in the brain. Seizures can occur if the nets are dissolved. This discovery may lead to a potential treatment for acquired epilepsy.
Epidemiology of Status Epilepticus in Adults: A Population-Based Study on Incidence, Causes, and Outcomes
The first population-based study using the International League Against Epilepsy 2015 definition and classification of status epilepticus found an increase of incidence of 10% compared to previous definitions. The study also provides epidemiologic evidence that different patterns of status evolution and level of consciousness have strong prognostic implications.
Can Genetic Therapy Help Kids with Angelman Syndrome Overcome Seizures?
Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine found evidence that genetic therapy may prevent the enhanced seizure susceptibility common in children with Angelman Syndrome. The research marks the first time scientists reduced seizure susceptibility in mice by activating a dormant copy of the UBE3A gene, so it could replace the faulty mutant version.
Parents and Researchers Work to Find Cause of Neonatal Epilepsy
Three US families aim to help researchers develop better treatments for neonatal-onset epilepsy with a US-wide study called Early Recognition of Genetic Epilepsy in Neonates (ERGENT). This study provides free-of-charge genetic testing to babies who have features suggestive of a genetically-caused epilepsy.
Alzheimer’s and Epilepsy: Intimate Connections
Like people with Alzheimer’s disease, people with epilepsy can experience memory loss or confusion. As part of an aura, they may hear or see things that aren’t there. When older adults display these symptoms, they may be misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, when in fact they are having (or just had) a seizure.