This month’s edition of epilepsy news features recent research suggesting that inducing a seizure prior to surgery is just as effective for pinpointing the brain region where seizures originate as a spontaneous seizure as a spontaneous seizure. In addition, CURE Post-Traumatic Epilepsy initiative members Dr. Oleskii Shandra and Dr. Stefanie Robel published work indicating that the amount of a certain type of cell may increase in the brain following repeated, mild TBIs, causing epilepsy.
Safety updates on several anti-epileptic drugs were reported, including results showing pregabalin may be associated with increased suicidal behavior and other hazards, and that certain drugs used to treat epilepsy may increase the risk of dementia. Studies also highlight the need for improved counseling for safe and effective contraception for women with epilepsy, and the need for resources for people with epilepsy in low-income countries.
Summaries of all highlighted studies follow below. We have organized the findings into Research and Discoveries and Also Notable.
Research and Discoveries
Inducing Seizures to Stop Seizures
Causing seizures by stimulating the brain may be a convenient and more cost-effective way to determine the brain region where seizures are originating prior to surgery.
New Research Could Help Predict Seizures Before They Happen
A new study has found a pattern of molecules that appears in the blood before a seizure happens, which may lead to the development of an early warning system.
Pregabalin Associated with Increased Suicidal Behavior and Other Hazards
Gabapentinoids, a class of drugs used to treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders, are associated with an increased risk of suicidal behavior, unintentional overdoses, head/body injuries, and road traffic incidents and offences. Pregabalin was associated with higher hazards of these outcomes than gabapentin.
Study Furthers Understanding of the Development of Epilepsy Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Featuring the work of CURE PTE Initiative members Dr. Oleskii Shandra and Dr. Stefanie Robel
A type of cell in the brain called an “atypical astrocyte” may increase following trauma, causing epilepsy following repeated, mild TBIs, according to a study by Drs. Oleskii Shandra and Stefanie Robel.
Even People with Well-Controlled Epilepsy May Be at Risk for Sudden Death
Featuring the work of former CURE Grantee Elizabeth Donner
A new study shows the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) may apply to individuals whose epilepsy is well-controlled. Previous, smaller studies showed that SUDEP risk was highest among those with severe, difficult-to-treat epilepsy, however, this study suggests a sizeable minority of SUDEP occurred in patients thought to be treatment-responsive or to have benign epilepsies. The study found that SUDEP occurred in people who had not taken their last dose of epilepsy medication, those who were sleep deprived, and those who had not had a seizure in at least a year.
Anticholinergic Drugs May Increase Risk of Dementia
A study suggests that the possible link between anticholinergic drugs and an increased risk of dementia is strongest for certain classes of anticholinergic drugs, including antiepileptic drugs such as oxcarbazepine and carbamazepine.
Research into Cannabis Dosage Shows Reduced Seizures in Children with Severe Epilepsy
Medicinal cannabis oil containing both cannabidiol (CBD) and a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can reduce or end seizures in children with severe, drug-resistant epilepsy, a study by the University of Saskatchewan has found.
The World Health Organization (WHO) Highlights the Scarcity of Treatment for Epilepsy in Low-Income Countries
Three quarters of people living with epilepsy in low-income countries do not get the treatment they need, increasing their risk of dying prematurely and condemning many to a life of stigma, according to WHO.
Bringing Neuromodulation Therapies to Drug-Resistant Epilepsy Patients
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that creating an epilepsy neuromodulation clinic improved access for patients and communication with referring physicians, achievement of expected outcomes for reducing or eliminating seizures, and the ability to train future providers in programming neuromodulation devices.
Encoded Therapeutics Gets $104M to Propel ‘Precision Gene Therapy’ for Dravet Syndrome
Encoded Therapeutics received $104 million to fund a precision gene therapy for Dravet syndrome. The company will also use the funds to advance its preclinical programs and come up with new treatments for severe genetic disorders.
Improved Counseling Needed for Safe, Effective Contraception in Women With Epilepsy
Over a third of women with epilepsy do not use highly effective contraception, despite the important, negative consequences of unintended pregnancy such as elevated risk of having offspring with congenital malformations. There is a need for more readily available information and counseling on safe and effective contraception for this community.