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New epilepsy drug offers hope
A new drug that may reduce seizures in people with chronic epilepsy has been welcomed by Epilepsy Society’s medical director Professor Ley Sander.
Perampanel is the first in a new class of drugs that selectively target proteins in the brain that control excitability. New research indicates that the innovative treatment may help reduce seizure frequency in people whose continuing seizures have been resistant to even the latest medications.
Said Professor Sander: ‘Any new drug that could help people with chronic epilepsy is welcomed, particularly a drug with a completely new mode of action.
‘This new potential drug has now been rigorously tested in trial conditions. It seems well tolerated by most people and seems to reduce seizures significantly in comparison with a placebo.
‘The real test will be when it is deployed to the clinic. We hope these good initial trial results will be replicated for people with epilepsy.’
Few side effects
Research shows that perampanel appears to blunt an excitatory response in the brain by inhibiting a specific form of glutamate receptor reducing seizures without causing major side effects. Other similar medications that have also targeted these receptors have tended to make patients too sleepy to function.
But researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine say the new drug reduces seizures without major side effects – dizziness was the most common side effect reported. Study leader, Gregory L Krauss, a professor of neurology, said: ‘For a drug-resistant population that has run out of options, this study is good news. These are patients who are tough to treat and are fairly desperate.
‘For years people have been trying to modify glutamate receptors to cure disease. It’s been a very difficult area to develop new drugs in.’
Higher dose of medication
In a blinded, placebo-controlled study of 700 people with uncontrolled partial-onset seizures, roughly one third saw the frequency of their seizures fall by more than 50 per cent when they were taking 8mg per day of perampanel.
The lowest effective dose was 4mg per day and researchers found that the higher the dose, the better the results. Another trial is now looking at a 12mg dose.
The study was funded by pharmaceutical firm, Eisai. It is hoped that perampanel will be reviewed by the US Food and Drug Administration within the next year.