June 2, 2009

Drug may prevent brain injury epilepsy

U.S. researchers have found an FDA-approved drug that might prevent genetically caused epilepsy also might help prevent more common forms of the condition.

Washington University School of Medicine researchers in St. Louis said they found the drug rapamycin may also help prevent forms of epilepsy caused by brain injury.

The scientists determined rapamycin blocks brain changes believed to cause seizures in rats. In a paper last year, the same group showed rapamycin prevents brain changes in mice triggered by one of the most common genetic causes of epilepsy, tuberous sclerosis.

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, Dr. Michael Wong, senior author of the research, said.

Researchers have traditionally tested potential epilepsy drugs on animals that were already having seizures, Wong added. 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.

The study that included postdoctoral fellow Ling-Hui Zeng appears in the May 27 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.