Important breakthrough in identifying effect of epilepsy treatment

October 31, 2013

50 years after valproate was first discovered, research published today in the journal Neurobiology of Disease, reports how the drug works to block seizure progression.

Valproate (variously labelled worldwide as Epilim, Depacon, Depakene, Depakote, Orlept, Episenta, Orfiril, and Convulex) is one of the world's most highly prescribed treatments for . It was first discovered to be an effective treatment for epilepsy, by accident, in 1963 by a group of French scientists.

In thousands of subsequent experiments, animals have been used to investigate how valproate blocks seizures, without success. Scientists from Royal Holloway University and University College London have now identified how valproate blocks seizures in the brain, by using a simple amoeba.

"The discovery of how valproate blocks seizures, initially using the social amoeba Dictyostelium, and then replicated using accepted seizure models, highlights the successful use of non-animal testing in biomedical research," said Professor Robin Williams from the School of Biological Sciences at Royal Holloway.

"Sodium valproate is one of the most effective antiepileptic drugs in many people with epilepsy, but its use has been limited by side-effects, in particular its effect in pregnant women on the unborn child," said Professor Matthew Walker from the Institute of Neurology at University College London. "Understanding valproate's mechanism of action is a first step to developing even more effective drugs that lack many of valproate's side-effects."

"Our study also found that the decrease of a specific chemical in the brain at the start of the seizure causes even more . This holds important implications for identifying underlying causes," added Professor Williams.

Explore further: Study reveals long-term effects on child IQ of epilepsy drug valproate during pregnancy

Related Stories

FDA warns pregnant women about migraine drugs

May 6, 2013

(HealthDay)—Pregnant women who struggle with migraine headaches should never use medicines containing the ingredient valproate because they can lower the IQ scores of their children, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ...

Recommended for you

Umbilical cells help eye's neurons connect

November 24, 2015

Cells isolated from human umbilical cord tissue have been shown to produce molecules that help retinal neurons from the eyes of rats grow, connect and survive, according to Duke University researchers working with Janssen ...

Brain connections predict how well you can pay attention

November 24, 2015

During a 1959 television appearance, Jack Kerouac was asked how long it took him to write his novel On The Road. His response – three weeks – amazed the interviewer and ignited an enduring myth that the book was composed ...

No cable spaghetti in the brain

November 24, 2015

Our brain is a mysterious machine. Billions of nerve cells are connected such that they store information as efficiently as books are stored in a well-organized library. To this date, many details remain unclear, for instance ...

Neurons encoding hand shapes identified in human brain

November 23, 2015

Neural prosthetic devices, which include small electrode arrays implanted in the brain, can allow paralyzed patients to control the movement of a robotic limb, whether that limb is attached to the individual or not. In May ...

Wireless sensor enables study of traumatic brain injury

November 23, 2015

A new system that uses a wireless implant has been shown to record for the first time how brain tissue deforms when subjected to the kind of shock that causes blast-induced trauma commonly seen in combat veterans.

Neuroscientists reveal how the brain can enhance connections

November 18, 2015

When the brain forms memories or learns a new task, it encodes the new information by tuning connections between neurons. MIT neuroscientists have discovered a novel mechanism that contributes to the strengthening of these ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.