Important breakthrough in identifying effect of epilepsy treatment

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.

Related Stories

FDA warns pregnant women about migraine drugs

date May 06, 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 ...

Recommended for you

How insulin calms brain activity

date 1 hour ago

Insulin has long been known as the hormone which controls the body's sugar levels: humans who lack or are insensitive to insulin develop diabetes. Although insulin is also made and released in the brain, ...

Men and women could use different cells to process pain

date Jun 30, 2015

We have known for some time that there are sex differences when it comes to experiencing pain, with women showing a higher sensitivity to painful events compared to men. While we don't really understand w ...

Pupillary reflex enhanced by light inside blind spot

date Jun 30, 2015

University of Tokyo researchers have found that the light reflex of the pupil is modulated by light stimulation inside the blind spot in normal human observers, even though that light is not perceived.

How your brain knows it's summer

date Jun 29, 2015

Researchers led by Toru Takumi at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have discovered a key mechanism underlying how animals keep track of the seasons. The study, published in Proceedings of the Na ...

User comments

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.